Non-smoking policy has benefits even for a nicotine junky

MaryAnne Shults

I’ve been a smoker off and on since I was in junior high back in the mid ‘70s in a very small town in upstate New York. It began with a group of friends hanging out in the town park where we would hide behind the ice skating rink shed and light up whatever brand of cig we could confiscate.

I rebelled against my mothers’ threat of “you’d better not smoke,” because this command always came as she held a lit Belair in her hand. There were a lot more smokers back in the day who could light up when and where they pleased including their homes, places of employment, restaurants, movie theatres, etc.

In the mid ‘80s, the U.S. Surgeon General published a report that cigarette smoking affected non-smokers and the term “second-hand smoke” became a universal health threat. Until this time, most assumed that one who chose to smoke may have to worry about cardiopulmonary disease or lung cancer, but when it was proven that others were affected as well, it soon became a socially unaccepted habit.

Today, the majority are health conscious, and the suggestion has been made by various departments to make Saddleback a non-smoking campus. There’s also buzz that our president shares these views.

In a sociology department program review from Sept. 2007, chairman Allison Camelot said, “It is suggested that the college become a non-smoking college as cigarette smoke pollutes the air on campus and impinges on our health.”

According to the minutes from the Oct. 2008 Academic Senate meeting state that the Campus Beautification Committee was also considering the smoking issue and encouraged the senators to discuss with their divisions and come back with proposed actions.

Although a bit inconvenient for us smokers, the health benefits and the aesthetic benefits outweigh the nuisance.

I believe there is such thing as a considerate smoker. He is the one who moves away from others when lighting up, but also important, the smoker who does not just toss their butts onto the ground. For goodness sake, put out the cigarette and walk the extra five feet to toss it into a trashcan, especially when smoking on campus.

Perhaps if there were more cigarette disposal units, the horrid mess of cigarette butts, most notably in garden and flower box areas, would be lessened.

In 2001, Time magazine quoted C. Everett Koop as saying that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco were addicting and leading health experts added that it was often more difficult to quit smoking tobacco than to kick a heroin habit.

I’ve fallen victim to this addiction. I’ve quit several times, once for nearly 10 years. But something triggers that psychological need to puff on a cigarette.

I’m not against a non-smoking campus, although it will be a drag on rainy days to have to walk to the edge of the property to feed my habit. Then again, it is an excellent incentive to finally quit and kiss my beloved Virginia Slims goodbye for the final time.

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