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U ban is just a different way to shun people
This week the University of Minnesota declared its Twin Cities campus smoke- and tobacco-free. As many Minnesotans rejoice, I ask what price freedom you place on freedom. I am an Iraq war veteran who just started attending the university in the spring. I did not start smoking until I was deployed overseas, and ever since I have used it to cope with anxiety. I understand that some will say this is not a good coping mechanism. Yet taking pills with side effects of suicide does not seem very appeasing to me.
I feel the new policy at the University of Minnesota is going to negatively affect my ability to attend. That is just the first issue for me personally. The university’s “share the air” policy is catchy, but misleading at best. At the campus, there are countless diesel trucks spewing exhaust in the air. How well are they “sharing” the air? If sharing is what the university wanted, why didn’t it just incorporate smoking areas around campus? Smokers in Minnesota are often treated as the redheaded stepchild of the state. The state keeps telling us how bad we are, even as we fund a stadium and many other things around the state.
I leave you with this: Why is a publicly funded institution banning something that is completely legal for adults?
Ryan Alan Carlson, Eden Prairie
In Twin Cities area, affordability is crucial
The June 27 editorial on housing trends (“Big change ahead in Twin Cities housing”) underscores the Metropolitan Council’s needed focus on density but does not mention affordability, which is likely to be the thorniest housing concern the council must address. The paper by University of Arizona real estate Prof. Arthur C. Nelson that was highlighted in the editorial identifies an increase of 131,000 very-low-income households in the Twin Cities by 2040. This means the population of those who will not be able to afford decent housing without some assistance is projected to increase by one-third.
Good public policy will lead to increased opportunity and greater dignity for low-income seniors and families, while housing policy that ignores their affordability challenge will mean greater concentrations of poverty, rising homelessness, and the attendant social ills such as increased lead poisoning or poor school performance. The council’s housing plan, to be released this fall, must lay out policies and strategies regarding affordability along with those encouraging more walkable, amenity-filled neighborhoods.
Chip Halbach, St. Paul
The writer is director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.