A recent article in The Daily Barometer, the school newspaper at Oregon State University slams the current smoke-free policy on campus as “outrageous.” While the author makes some good points, he states that smoking “is a minor issue.” According to him only 443,000 people out of a population of the 314 million population in the U.S., “not even a quarter of a percent of people in the U.S., die from smoking annually, according to the government.” His proposal? To improve the “smoking problem” allow people to smoke wherever they want on campus since “smoking is not a problem for anyone.”
His first argument is that OSU, as a public university, shouldn’t exuecute a policy that takes away a person’s freedom. The very act of smoking removes the freedom of others to breath clean air. The State of Oregon has a smokefree workplace law in effect, and new restrictions went into effect on January 1, 2009, almost four years ago. This law does not allow smoking indoors, and prohibits “smoking within 10 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes of workplaces or public places.” While it doesn’t specifically name OSU, the school is a “workplace” for many employees, and it is a public institution. OSU could have NOT passed a smokefree policy, but since it relies on money from the state, it would mean going against state laws, and funding could have been cut.
The author’s second argument that “making a rule in an effort to stop a certain behavior doesn’t work” is true, providing you do not enforce the rule. It will take time to get the message across, but OSU has been doing just that for the past two years with an education and outreach campaign for the university and the community. Students and employees will be held accountable and if you violate the smoke-free policy you may be asked to leave. If warnings and tickets are issued, the behavior will change, much like the rules regarding parking on campus.
It is true that a smokefree campus doesn’t mean that smoke from nearby smoking spots will not drift onto the OSU campus. But it will mean that heavy concentrations of secondhand smoke, which contains over 4,000 chemicals and is a Class A known human carcinogen (as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency), will be greatly reduced. It also means that the health of the student body population, approximately 25,000 according the fall term 2011 enrollment figures, and that of workers will benefit from the cleaner air.
Having a smokefree campus does not push “an agenda that actually hurts the students.” The policy follows the laws of the state and provides cleaner air for everyone, smokers and non-smokers alike. The smoking restriction which includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, electronic cigarettes or other devices intended to simulate smoking, decreases insurance costs for the university, decreases lawn maintenance costs of picking up butts which are the most littered item in America. Keeping tobacco litter off the ground protects the wildlife from eating toxins, and keeps cigarette butts and their toxins from washing into our waterways.
Instituting a smoke-free policy on the OSU campus gives every student and employee the freedom to live and work in a smoke-free environment. Smokers, both students and employees, have an opportunity to purchase nicotine replacement therapy products at the OSU Pharmacy, and to take advantage of free quit programs offered by the University. And if that is not enough insentive, think of the freedom you will experience not having to run to the store for smokes, laying out $5 or more each time you run out of cigarettes, and trying to find a place to smoke off campus. It also means you have taken back your life from the tobaccy industry. What an intelligent choice.
Go OSU “smokefree” Beavers!
Click here for the link to the article.