Smoke-free campus needs heavy consideration

Jasmine Fleming

The Student Government Association is currently working with the Department of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment to discuss results of a survey asking students to give their opinion on our smoking policy and a possible smoke-free campus.

Based on these results, SGA will decide whether or not to create a smoke-free campus resolution.

I personally hope students look at the possibility of a smoke-free campus from multiple angles before choosing a side to support. There are many reasons why a smoking ban could seem like a positive move for our campus, but each of these perceived positives has a counterpoint we should consider as the student body.

1. Many college campuses are smoke-free.

There are 1,130 smoke-free college campuses in the U.S., according to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Over 24 college campuses (including community colleges) in Alabama are smoke-free, according to the organization. This includes local Northwest-Shoals Community College campuses and Calhoun Community College campuses. The University of Alabama, a more prominent state university, made the decision to go smoke-free Jan. 1.

With so many other campuses in Alabama making the change, it may seem like the best choice.

However, my initial reaction to non-smoking campuses is this: for students who live on campus, telling them they cannot smoke on campus is telling them they cannot smoke at home. I cannot imagine what it would feel like to UNA students, and what it feels like to students already at smoke-free universities, to have to either walk off campus or drive to another location just to smoke a cigarette.

2. Smoking poses many health risks.

Smoking can have adverse affects, including compromising the immune system, reducing bone density and heart health and leading to over 18 types of cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Although there are plenty of risks associated with smoking, why does that give the university the right to monitor it?

At least one in four Americans eats fast food daily, according to Eating fast food regularly can lead to weight gain, cardiovascular conditions and increased chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Still, even though high-calorie foods can have negative health effects, they are not banned on campus. I personally believe, even if a substance poses health risks, adults should be able to make their own decision about using it.

3. Second-hand smoke affects those who do not make the decision to smoke.

Secondhand smoke, or the smoke non-smokers inhale from others, can lead to similar health conditions as smoking, including coronary heart disease, strokes and lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As it is a completely valid concern, I suggest the university create smoking zones, or designated areas on campus where people can smoke. With smoking zones, people who wish to avoid smokers can stay away from these areas, and people who wish to smoke do not have to leave campus to do so.

University of Washington, along with other U.S. universities, designates smoking areas, so it is a plausible option for a university. They list the locations on their website, along with images of them and a campus map to locate them.

Although I do believe smoking can be harmful to smokers and potentially those around them, I think we, as adults, should have the right to do so on campus if we choose.

I also hope when the time comes to make this decision, SGA and students consider smoking from all sides: smokers and non-smokers, on and off-campus students alike. Only then can we reach a fair decision.