Student government passes fair resolution

by News Editor Anna Beahm

I have always tried to respect other people’s choices, even if I think those choices are wrong or harmful.

As a marathon runner, smoking has never been part of my lifestyle. I even prefer to stay away from cigarette smoke. I know there are other students who feel the same.

If my fellow classmate wishes to smoke, I have no problem with their choice. I just ask they do it in certain areas on campus designated for this activity. There is nothing worse than receiving a face-full of smoke while walking across the university.

The Student Government Association passed a resolution Feb. 11 requesting campus officials to amend the campus smoking and tobacco policy, and I support every word of the resolution.

The current policy states students can smoke anywhere on campus as long as they stay at least 30 feet from the entrances to buildings. However, this rule is poorly enforced. I have never seen an officer ask one of the many students who smoke right outside the buildings to put out a cigarette or even talk to them.

“Students can carry on with reasonable habits as they could at home,” according to the resolution.

In the resolution, SGA requests campus officials create tobacco-only zones on campus. They also asked that there be at least one smoking area within a reasonable distance from each residence hall.

I believe our campus is not ready, or will ever be ready, to go completely smoke-free, and I see many problems with going smoke-free.

First, what are students going to do if they want to smoke between classes? If campus is completely smoke-free, that means the only place they could smoke is off campus. Students will not walk five minutes to smoke a cigarette that takes only three to four minutes to smoke.

It is not reasonable to ask students to walk off campus for a smoke break.

Second, going smoke-free tells students in the residence halls they cannot carry on with their habit, even in the place they call “home.” Living on campus may force some students to alter their lifestyles.

The university might remove all ashtrays and cigarette butt disposals if it went smoke-free because “no one is smoking on campus.” It is very important to dispose of these items properly to protect our environment.

The study said the majority of cigarette butt waste is the filters, which decompose very slowly. These slowly decomposing butts have the potential to become hazardous waste.

Because of this, I think it is important to keep the cigarette butts off the ground and in a cigarette-only disposal. I also encourage our administration to consider disposing of the butts at a hazardous waste facility instead of mixing them with the general trash.

Cigarette butts comprise about 30 percent, by count, of the total litter on US waterways, shorelines and land, according to a study by BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

Third, how could our campus enforce such strict tobacco regulation when the current policy is not enforced at all? UNA would only be smoke-free on paper, not in practice.

University officials, I urge you to act on SGA’s legislation. Create smoking areas within reasonable distance of the academic buildings and residence halls with adequate ashtrays and cigarette butt disposals so students who smoke can enjoy their habit without affecting those who wish to abstain.