Note: This column is part of a point counterpoint debate regarding a new policy to ban smoking on campus. Click here to read the other half.
The good news is smoking has finally been banned from most indoor public places, which is a great start to preventing secondhand smoke, but what about the fresh air? Smokers are ruining that, too. Honestly, what the hell is wrong with you smokers? Why are you fighting so hard for something that may have you fighting for your life one day?
Maybe you think I’m over-reacting, but researchers at Stanford University disagree. “We were surprised to discover that being within a few feet of a smoker outdoors may expose you to air pollution levels that are compatible, on average, to indoor levels that we measured in previous studies of homes and taverns,” according to Wayne Ott, professor of civil environmental engineering at Stanford University, in the article “Secondhand Smoke at Sidewalk Cafes and Other Outdoor Settings Is Still Serious, According to Scientists.” The article was published on the Science Daily website.
The Stanford findings mean that every time a Mercer County Community College student walks by one of the on campus smoking huts that are filled with smokers, they can be affected by secondhand smoke.
“I don’t like the smoking huts,” said Frank Fuccello, second year Exercise Science major at MCCC, “because in order to get to a lot of my classes I have to walk by them and I can’t stand the smoke.” Fuccello said he tries to find different ways to his classes just to avoid the huts. It is ridiculous that a Mercer student who is just trying to actually go to class has to be inconvenienced by buttheads.
Maybe the saddest aspect of the hut problem is that it is tied to a problem described by my colleague at the VOICE, Zac Satanello, who wrote last month about the lack of social space on Mercer’s campuses. The school is really at fault here. Some students take to the huts because they are trying to make connections. Students like Nick Andrejco, a third year Theater major who told The VOICE he basically took up smoking so he could spend time with other people in his program. Talking to Nick made me soften my stance somewhat. Since Mercer is in no rush to build a campus that offers adequate social space for students to bond, the smoking huts may, in fact, be needed. But I also need to be able to breathe. The good news is that someone has proposed a reasonable compromise.
I recently attended a Mercer S.G.A meeting set up to allow students to voice their opinions about whether our campus should become smoke free or not. During the meeting, senior Asuman Ekiza, aLiberal Arts major, presented a solution that even one as extremely anti-smoking as I might be okay with.
“Just make the huts larger and push them back further away from the paths,” said Ekiza.
If that keeps the lingering smoke away from those of us who actually care about our lungs while protecting the rights of those who don’t, I’m all for it. Now I’m sure it would cost money to move and enlarge the huts, but hey, if the school can come up with $160,000 for gaudy digital signs at both entrances, then I’m sure they can scrounge up the money to pay for something we actually care about.