A recent article in The Review, the University of Delaware’s Independent School Newspaper stated that the “smoke-free campus initiative excessive, unnecessary” even though 72 percent of undergrads favor a tobacco-free campus. The writer of the article stated that he is a non-smoker and “doesn’t really mind sharing a world with people who choose to smoke.” He goes on to compare walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke to getting blasted from a truck’s exhaust fumes. Both are unpleasant, but probably won’t kill you because the expose is kept at a minimum.
He also cites tolerance for a quarter of the people on campus who do smoke equating it to those down the hall who like to party and play loud music. Wouldn’t it be better to let them have their fun once in awhile than to totally ban their activities? “I can’t say with any degree of certainty how harmful our brief encounters with cigarette smoke is, but I imagine it’s relatively trivial.”
Making the campus tobacco-free doesn’t just benefit the 72 percent who are in favor of a tobacco-free campus, but the 100 percent who live, work, visit and go to school there. Tobacco smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Even low levels of exposure to secondhand smoke can be detected in a non-smoker. And while you expect secondhand smoke to cause respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing, it also “immediately affects the heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation in a harmful way” according to the American Cancer Society. There is no safe level to secondhand smoke.
Removing tobacco from the campus will give those who are thinking of quitting another incentive, and those whose daily exposure may push them towards using tobacco. Smokers may be smoking outside, but the residue on their hair, skin and clothing follows them inside and makes it difficult for some people to breathe in the smokers’ vicinity. Making the campus tobacco-free would benefit the University. First, if everyone would respect the ban, the University could also save money on cleaning cigarette litter, one of the “most littered item in America.” Second, those employees still using tobacco would have another incentive to quit, thus saving the University money on their health insurance costs. Keeping costs down is what it is all about when running a business, and the University is attempting to do just that.
You say “there are some situations where it’s best to compromise in the interest of ‘live and let live,’” yet using tobacco doesn’t compromise or let you “live.” Constant exposure to secondhand smoke causes a variety of health problems for you. Using tobacco has no intrinsic value in your life: you are paying an industry to provide you with a product that will guarantee you, and ultimately those around you, diminished health, looks, and employment opportunities. Using nicotine in any form could cost you future employment opportunities and higher health insurance costs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control only 9.9% of adults with a undergraduate college degree smoke versus 23.8% of adults with a high school diploma. The University is a place of higher learning, and it should be easy to research tobacco use and secondhand smoke and know the damaging effects it has on health. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. Making the campus tobacco-free benefits 100 percent of the people.
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