Welcome to our choice-free campus

There have been many unanswered questions about the new tobacco-free policy that came into effect here at Tech on Jan. 1 of the New Year. A number of students I know smoke, therefore I have heard a lot of complaints first hand. No tobacco use is allowed on campus, except in a personal vehicle.Tech isn’t the only school prohibiting tobacco, according to the tobacco information page on the university website. Tech is simply following other Board of Regents universities, as well many private and public universities across the nation.

Most of which do not provide students with a designated smoking area.

Firstly, how can this rule really be enforced campus wide? Tech police can’t be everywhere at once, and I’d hope they’d be more concerned about the safety of the students and staff than catching people with cigarettes.

Secondly, many students do not own a personal vehicle, which means they need to walk to a public place to smoke. It is fair to move away from doors to prevent second-hand smoke exposure to non-smokers, asthmatic people, and pregnant women.

However, smoking outside in the open air away from passerby on campus should not be a privilege. It’s a social liberty says Alyssa Stanford, a freshman who states, “I completely understand the health hazards that correlate with it [tobacco use] however Tech didn’t provide me or other smokers with a shelter or designated area.”

This policy is prohibiting students from making their own personal choices. It is widely believed that this rule is to make students quit smoking. In fact, the web site provides an 800 number for people having trouble quitting.

Yes, people should be outside, and of course no one should be subjected to second-hand smoke. I understand that smoking is a dangerous habit and causes serious health problems. Personally, I am not condoning tobacco use. However, a designated smoking area on campus where students can smoke outside is a very reasonable suggestion.

Why is it such a difficult task to have smoking areas? Because it is commonly believed that secondhand smoke at any level on campus will affect the health of students. Though anyone can cross the street and smoke legally, it wouldn’t be any different to smoke on campus in a designated section except it would be much more convenient.

I did a little research on secondhand smoke to determine at what distance someone could smoke without negatively affecting the health of non-smokers in the area.

In a letter to Leroy J. Pletten, Greg Watchman from OSHA states, “Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.”

If you still don’t buy the idea that under certain levels secondhand smoke is relatively safe for non-smokers, think about the fact that emissions from the cars on campus pose much more of a health risk than second-hand smoke.

The risk of cancer from secondhand smoke is significantly lower than that of exposure to pollutants from our gas tanks. Benzene is a highly toxic pollutant present in fuel emissions. In fact, 90% of air pollution’s cancer risks come from motor vehicles according to the Alternative Fuels Institute.

As for passive tobacco use, such as chewing tobacco or “dip”, it is really unknown why this is not permitted on campus. Of course smoking causes offense due to the health risks of second-hand smoke. However, chewing tobacco has zero effect on the air quality and produces no health risks to anyone other than the person partaking actively.

Using tobacco is a personal choice not the decision of the University which we pay to attend and live within the facilities. It is a requirement to live on campus until junior year unless you are a commuter who lives at home.

If you are legally an adult, it is outrageous to be told to smoke elsewhere when you must live on campus.

We aren’t in middle school. We are college students capable of making our own decisions and taking responsibility for the health consequences that may result.