Students speak out on campus smoking issues

UNA students enjoy a cigarette in front of the GUC. Students, faculty and staff at UNA must smoke 30 feet away from the doors and openings of most buildings.

Smoking is a common habit across the U.S. and college campuses everywhere. From Marlboros to Nicotine patches, smoking is an epidemic that is worth discussing. College students vary in their opinions on the matter, especially students at UNA.

While many college students smoke, others refuse to do so and are annoyed by the smell.

“We all have God-given rights, and while everyone has a right to smoke, everyone also has a right to breathe clean air on the way to class,” said UNA student Randy Thomason.

But some students, like April Majas, believe the opposite.

“I think I should be able to smoke wherever I want,” she said. “I try not to smoke around others, but I feel that I have the right to.”

Most professionals believe that students should not smoke.

“Smoking is simply not good for your health because it is detrimental in so many ways,” said Peggy Bergeron, a nurse at Bennett Infirmary.

Bergeron also pointed out that smoking is proven to cause cancer as well as heart disease. Statistics show that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., while heart disease is the leading cause of death, according to Bergeron.

UNA Police Chief Bob Pastula explained that his police department complies with the university’s smoking policy. They keep an ear out for complaints and deal with smoking-related situations.

“Smoking is usually not a problem on campus,” Pastula said.

Pastula said he would prefer a smoke-free campus because it is cleaner.

“Smokers have their rights as long as they smoke in designated areas,” Pastula said. “However, non-smokers have their rights to avoid medical problems caused by second-hand smoke. Most complaints we get are about students smoking too close to the door, but overall it is not ever a huge problem.”

Some students feel as though smoking is hazardous to their health, and the health of others around them.

“I respect their rights to slowly kill themselves,” said UNA honors student Drew Mills. “My right to breathe fresh air supersedes their rights to be a slave to big business.”

Bonita HuiHui agrees with Mills.

“Smoking is disgusting,” she said. “I am tired of walking through clouds of smoke on my way to class.”

In order to solve this problem, Area Coordinator for Residence Life, Elissa Rupley, believes that UNA should have a non-smoking campus with smoking huts that are closed off for smoking students to use.

Residence Life rules state that one must be at least 30 feet away from a building to smoke. Otherwise, smoke goes through vents and into rooms in the buildings.

Bergeron explained the effects that secondhand smoke can have on other students.

“Someone who breathes secondhand smoke is exposed to all the same cancer causing chemicals as the smoker,” she said. “If you are around it on a daily basis, it doubles your risk of a heart attack. It causes lung cancer in non-smokers. Children who breathe secondhand smoke have more problems with asthma, colds and ear infections.”

Ashley Truelove takes others into consideration when she lights a cigarette.

“I try not to smoke on campus in order to respect nonsmokers,” she said.

For more information on smoking contact Bergeron at 256-765-4328.