Walking across South Patio the other day, I took a deep breath, glad my nose and lungs were full of crisp winter air instead of burning tobacco. As a non-smoker, the tobacco ban on campus means no more holding my breath as I dash through a cluster of smokers on my way to class. But the ban was not created just for my breathing pleasure. It was implemented because tobacco is a substance that is a health hazard and has no place on campus (except of course, personal vehicles, and I would suggest keeping the windows rolled up).
People over the age of 18 have every right to purchase, chew, and smoke tobacco. But the university also has a right to limit where on campus tobacco is allowed. Many colleges have banned tobacco on their campuses in the past few years. According to USA Today, the number of schools with a total smoking ban has tripled since 2007.
Tech has made this move in efforts to make the campus and its students healthier. Aren’t people always complaining that the university doesn’t care about student? Well here is proof that it does.
An activity such as smoking does not affect the user alone. Secondhand smoke affects all of those close by, not to mention leaves a smoky smell lingering in the air and on personal items. If a smoker doesn’t mind the unhealthy habit, it can pursue it where it doesn’t interfere with everyone else’s learning atmosphere.
Earlier rules already banned smoking around buildings, specifically 25 feet away from doorways so others could come and go without unwillingly inhaling secondhand smoke. This rule was not always followed by some, which is perhaps why there is now a stricter ban.
It will also be effective in reducing a particular type of litter on campus. I know there are plenty of smokers who are courteous enough to not toss their cigarette butts on the ground, but a lot do.
What is it that makes a discarded butt less of a crime than a candy wrapper or paper cup? Nothing. And the ban will reduce cigarette butts littered on the steps of dorms and across South Patio.
I know I have been focusing more on smokers than chewers, and that’s because it’s the smoke that sticks to my clothes and irritates my nose. But both are unhealthy habits, and the university does not have to accommodate for it.
I can only hope the ban will help some smokers and chewers break their habits before their health suffers further. In case you haven’t heard, tobacco use is hazardous to your health.
A 2004 Study by the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found that cigarette smoke contains at least 69 chemicals which are known to cause cancer.
Approximately 440,000 Americans die each year from smoking-related problems, many of them long, painful respiratory illness.
Chewers face different but just as serious problems. Oral and throat cancer affects 30,000 Americans a year, and only have survived more than five years after being diagnosed.
For those lucky enough to escape cancer, there is tooth and gum decay and damage to the bone structure of the jaw.
Polonium 210, formaldehyde, nicotine, cadmium, cyanide, arsenic, benzene, and lead are found in tobacco products.
Remember the ruckus about lead found in children’s toys from China? Imagine eating that lead with about 100 different toxins daily. Why should the university condone such self-distructive behavior?
People over the age of 21 can purchase and consume alcohol, but alcohol is also banned on campus. Weapons are also banned, whether they even if they are purchased legally. The tobacco ban is no different. It’s not to punish smokers and chewers. It’s to make campus a cleaner, healthier place to learn.
So take a deep, fresh breath and enjoy a tobacco-free campus.