Step in the right direction
Smoking is a choice, a choice that can lead to addiction and comes with numerous health risks. On the other hand, breathing clean air is a right. “Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds”1, 60 of which are known to be carcinogenic. Some of the health risks of both firsthand and secondhand smoke include heart disease, lung cancer, and breathing problems. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke; the most effective way to reduce secondhand smoke exposure is through creating smoke-free environments.
Goucher’s current smoking policy requires that smokers be a minimum of 25 feet away from building entrances. While some people are very respectful of this policy, rainy weather and the lack of enforcement seem to make the policy ineffective as is. This is why the policy is being reevaluated through community forums, surveys, and weekly dialogue among the policy task force. All campuses and other shared areas should aim to be smoke free when it is feasible to do so, but it is not something that can happen overnight. In most situations, it is a long process made one step at a time. I hope the Goucher community continues to take the necessary steps to ensure the health of all, while keeping our campus a place where everyone can feel welcome.
1American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)
“Can you please put out that cigarette?”
Smoking cigarettes is the surest way to get cancer and die, unless your grandmother was right and standing in front of the microwave really will kill you. Everyone who smokes knows that it is bad for him or her and continues to smoke. This is fine.
It is not fine when the smoking affects you. Even as a smoker, I get it, believe me, I do. I’m not going to go into “freedoms” because that leads to an endless back and forth which essentially boils down to whose “rights” are more important. What I do not understand, however, is why you never asked me to put out my cigarette. Creating legislation is a great way to fix problems that cannot otherwise be solved. But, at this stage in the process, my question is: how much have we really tried to solve the contentious issue of smoking on campus?
Besides the smoking policy forum, I’ve never had a conversation about it. The truth is, most smokers smoke in groups—not usually during an intimate conversation with you—if you ask them not to. Since when have we broken down to a campus that cannot ask questions as simple as “do you mind if I smoke?” or “could you please put out that cigarette.” Let’s be civil and adult here, people. College may be a uniquely warm bubble that nurtures us from the big bad world, but the truth is it prepares us for it too. In life, we have to confront difficult issues—direct obstacles to our own, personal comfort. It may be asking someone to put out their cigarette or telling your neighbor to stop letting her boyfriend park his car in your spot. Either way, we need to communicate effectively and honestly without being mean, petty or passive aggressive..
So, please, ask me to put out my cigarette. I would appreciate it. And, while you’re at it, ask me my name, my favorite book or my major—because we are all more than our habits and our phobias.