Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Siegel on Washington University hypocrisy

"If the real interest of Washington University was to create a healthier and safer environment for its students, then the first thing the university should do is not to ban tobacco use on the campus, but to eliminate alcohol use. While smoking on the campus causes few acute health problems, drinking on the campus causes a great deal of illness and injury and is a substantial threat to the health and safety of students.

A comprehensive review of the subject published in 2005 found that alcohol use among college students is the cause of more than 500,000 unintentional injuries and more than 600,000 assaults among college students each year (see: Hingson R, Heeren T, Winter M, Wechsler H. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18-24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 2005; 26:259-279).

In addition, approximately 2.8 million college students drive under the influence of alcohol and there are approximately 1700 annual alcohol-related deaths among college students.

I'm not arguing here that alcohol use should be banned on college campuses, but I am pointing out the inconsistency and hypocrisy of banning tobacco use in order to achieve a healthy campus but not eliminating alcohol use as well. Arguably, alcohol is a more important or at least more immediate threat to the safety, health, security, and well-being of college students."