Should our campus be smoke-free?

Should our campus be smoke-free?

Nick Reagan Jennifer Mclaughlin

Nick Reagan: Anti smoke-free campus

South Dakota State University is the only Board of Regents school to allow their students to smoke on campus, provided they do it responsibly.

Currently, our rules dictate that those who wish to exercise their right to smoke must do so 25 feet from any air intake of any building on campus. Some wish to see this rule replaced with a more restrictive policy that would ban smoking on campus property all together. Why?

I will leave the pro argument to the proponents of the measure, but to sum it up, smoking is a health concern, a nuisance and poses serious issues for those with certain health conditions like asthma.

The first and most popular of the arguments is the health concern.

Smoking is a very unique vice because, while it is a personal choice, it can affect others through second hand smoke. However, even this long standing belief is now under fire. Lung cancer is the calling card and fall back argument that every anti-smoker uses to rebut well-reasoned smoking explanation. Unfortunately, these are falsely reported facts.

Numerous studies have come out denouncing these second hand smoke myths with actual facts. In an article published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institutes, it was found, “. . . no link between the disease [lung cancer] and second hand smoke.” The same study reports that smokers are 13 times more likely to get cancer, but non-smokers do not need to worry about cancer from walking past a person with a cigarette.

Is it a nuisance? Yes. Relatively few students find walking in a cloud of smoke enjoyable, but how often does it happen? I challenge everyone to keep track of how many times they have prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke in the coming week. I found only a few times where the nuisance was more than negligible.

If we are going to ban mere nuisances then we will need to pass ordinances regulating talking in Einsteins and music in the Market. The simple fact that it is a nuisance is not enough to outlaw it all together.

Another point is that there are serious repercussions for those with medical conditions like asthma. This is a credible complaint. Unfortunately, this is the same problem that those with severe allergies have to worry about as well. Someone who is deathly allergic to peanuts or shellfish has to constantly be on guard whenever dining in public. We cannot regulate everything to meet everyone’s needs. We simply do not have the capacity and setting the standard of banning something to help a relative few opens to doors to ban anything and everything.

No one should have to have their rights restricted just because others may disagree with their decisions, but at the same time nor should the voice of the majority be unheard. We should enforce the policies we already have. Move smoking huts away from the buildings, create fines for violators and mark public buildings to inform people that they are not allowed to smoke within 25 feet.

Should we really punish the vast majority of those who follow the rules by banning smoking altogether just because of the few who break the rules?

Jennifer:Pro smoke-free campus

Campuses have the right to become smoke-free and should become smoke-free for several reasons.

First of all, smoking is a major health concern not only to those who smoke but also to anyone who is in the vicinity of someone smoking.

For the smoker, smoking can increase the chance of cancer, stroke and oral diseases. This contributes to one out of five deaths. For non-smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke increases the chance of heart disease and lung cancer by 30 percent.

Furthermore, secondhand smoke is responsible for roughly 53,000 premature deaths in the U.S.A. In fact, even brief exposures can be harmful as there is no safe level of secondhand smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Just because someone chooses to smoke and is willing to take the risks involved, doesn’t mean everyone else should be harmed because of it.

Smoke-free policies are often faced with the counter argument of “this is America; people should have the right to do what they want.” Yes, we are America and it offers countless opportunities; however, have you seen a statement in the U.S. Constitution or Bill of Rights that gives the right for anyone to smoke anywhere?

In another perspective, we as Americans have allowed inventions that don’t benefit humans to be accepted (for example nuclear bombs, weapons and meth).

Americans should have the same right to terminate the use of products that are harmful not only to its users but non-users as well.

When looking across the United States, over 1,500 colleges and universities have become smoke-free campuses. These campuses range across 46 states.

In South Dakota alone, 10 colleges and universities have smoke-free policies. In addition, many Division I schools are smoke-free. Just looking at the schools South Dakota State University plays in football and basketball, 7 out of the 12 schools enact a smoke-free policy. When comparing to its peers, SDSU has an opportunity to join a growing population of universities that are becoming smoke-free.

According to Rethink Tobacco, smoke-free policies have been shown to “minimize the exposure to secondhand smoke.” Thus, having a smoke-free campus at South Dakota State University would be beneficial in many ways.

First, it would contribute to cleaner air everywhere students, faculty and staff walk on campus. This would help reduce risks of lung and heart disease among other health effects. In a smaller, way it would eliminate the nuisance many non-smokers experience as they walk behind a person smoking.

In addition, becoming smoke-free would place SDSU in the same league as many other universities across the nation that are taking a stance on smoking.

I hope you will support a smoke-free campus. Please stop by the Students’ Association office or e-mail me at [email protected] with your comments and concerns.