Smoke-free policy on campus should be put into effect
In the past two years, more than 600 colleges and universities have executed smoke-free policies across their entire campuses, including outdoor areas, bringing the total to more than 1,100 colleges and universities with smoking bans. Arizona State University enacted a completely tobacco-free policy on campus at the beginning of this semester, including smokeless tobacco.
As much as I hate to admit it, our neighbors to the north are onto something here, and the UA should enact its own smoking ban.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. Of the more than 7,000 chemical compounds found in tobacco smoke, at least 69 are known to cause cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
Kailey Perry, a physiology junior, said she would support a smoke-free campus because she doesn’t like walking through secondhand smoke.
In June, Louisiana joined three other states by making it a requirement that all public universities in the state enact smoke-free policies.
In 2006, Arizona voters passed the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, banning smoking in most enclosed public places and places of employment. The university already bans smoking in and near university buildings, but more can be done to prevent secondhand smoke inhalation.
Nathan Yee, a junior studying computer science and mathematics, also said he would support a smoke-free policy on the UA campus.
“Whenever I walk by someone who’s smoking, I always have to hold my breath,” Yee said.
An on-campus smoking ban also has the potential to encourage students and faculty to live a healthier lifestyle because of the obstacle it presents to students and faculty who want to smoke.
In January 2008, Indiana University initiated a smoke-free policy both to limit secondhand smoke and to discourage students from continuing or starting an unhealthy habit. Researchers compared the effects this ban had on students’ behavior and on their perceptions of smoking to students at nearby Purdue University, where smoking was permitted on campus 30 feet away from a university building.
The percentage of students at Indiana University who reported that they currently smoke cigarettes fell from 16.5 percent to 12.8 percent two years after the smoke-free policy was enacted.
The percentage of smokers at Purdue University increased slightly during that time, from 9.5 percent to 10.1 percent. Additionally, the average number of cigarettes smoked each day by smokers at Indiana University fell from 6.6 to 5.9 between 2007 and 2009.
Two years after the smoking ban was established, students at Indiana University also perceived that fewer of their classmates smoked, which the researchers attributed to increased awareness about the smoking ban.
These smoke-free policies inevitably have to rely on peer pressure and education about the ban to work, but even a small shift in attitudes and behavior can create large, meaningful changes.
“I think it’s a common courtesy to others to maintain a clean environment,” said Courtney Cox, a psychology junior. “This includes not having to see cigarette butts on campus or walking through clouds of smoke.”
Nathaniel Drake is the opinions editor. Follow him on Twitter.com/@nsdrake.