University needs tougher smoke-free policy
Imagine walking down East Shaw Lane on a sunny fall afternoon. There’s a light breeze, but the warmth of the setting sun fends off any feelings of being cold. You take a deep breath and inhale fresh, untainted air.
Now, actually walk down East Shaw Lane and try doing this. You might find yourself entranced by the setting sun and nice weather, but fresh air is out of the equation. Instead, you’ll likely be inhaling secondhand smoke.
The university’s smoke-free policy prohibits smoking in campus buildings and within 25 feet of them. It also prevents the selling of tobacco on campus. But smoking outside is OK.
That smoking policy is lenient compared to that of other universities, though some complain about walking away from a building for a quick smoke. Yet, there are ashtrays right outside the doors of many buildings, and naturally, people smoke near them. I have also seen students prop open the side doors of dorm halls and stand close by as they have a cigarette or two. In those cases, the rules go unenforced.
Other schools in the state, including the University of Michigan, Western Michigan University and Central Michigan University have or plan to adopt comprehensive smoke-free policies. Most don’t permit students to smoke cigarettes or use any forms of tobacco on campus. Strict no-smoking policies are also in place at other schools in the Big Ten.
MSU’s smoking policy was approved on July 16th, 1993 — and things have changed since then.
Years later, scientists discovered cigarettes can damage nearly every part of your body, not just cause lung cancer. Then, in 2006, the real seriousness of secondhand smoke was addressed in the surgeon general’s report, “The Health Consequences of involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke.” It concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
If our smoking policy was stricter, it could possibly reverse the effects of cigarettes on students, staff and faculty who smoke. The introduction of a smoke-free policy on campus could even inspire some to quit smoking entirely.
MSU prides itself on being green and aims to be healthy, but students constantly inhaling secondhand smoke doesn’t help our community achieve those goals. MSU does offer help for those who wish to quit smoking through Student Health Services. Those programs, along with a refined and safer policy on smoking can improve health on campus and maybe even make that fresh-air stroll down East Shaw Lane a reality.
Rich Vadasy is an intern at The State News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.