Why should Philadelphia University be a smoke-free campus? There are a myriad of reasons, and most of them are obvious, like the fact that it could help people quit. However, I’m not going to tell people to quit smoking – that’s not why I’m writing this article. These days, if someone smokes, they are aware that it’s deadly and are choosing to do it anyway. Nothing they read could possibly change their mind and they need to find reasons within themselves to stop. I am writing this article because I don’t want people smoking around me.
When I was in high school, I knew about three people that smoked. Everyone knew it was gross and dangerous, no one thought it was cool. Neither of my parents have smoked in my lifetime, nor does anyone in my immediate family. I had no idea that so many people still did it, especially young people. When I came to Philadelphia University, I was surprised to see people smoking all over campus. These are people who have grown up with the same knowledge that I have. They probably went through the D.A.R.E. program and they have seen the Centers for Disease Control commercials with real people missing limbs and talking through artificial voice boxes embedded in their throats. This isn’t 1955, when no one knew how dangerous it was. People know, and their decision making process baffles me. I didn’t realize how much of an epidemic smoking still is and I didn’t know how much I hated it until I came to PhilaU.
Besides the obvious health risks, smoking is disgusting. The smell alone is enough to make my stomach turn, but yet I have to deal with it every single day. If I need to walk in or out of DEC, Hayward, Downs, or Tuttleman, I have to brace myself and hold my breath. The smokers always choose to congregate outside of the classroom buildings, high traffic areas where non-smokers are forced to interact with their foul habit. There are students in some of my classes who leave the room to smoke, and come back reeking of cigarette smoke. It’s not a productive learning environment when you can’t focus in class because the person next to you smells like cigarettes. Why should the non-smoking majority have to make conscious efforts to avoid this?
In addition to the sheer unpleasantness of smoking, the environmental impact is also huge. Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item in the United States. PhilaU claims to be sustainable yet has done very little to nothing to reduce the impact that smokers have on the environment.
The current smoking policy here prohibits people from smoking in indoor public spaces, but what about outside? There are no designated areas for smokers outside so they can smoke anywhere. Our campus is beautiful and it’s one of our greatest assets, but I don’t want to spend time outside if there’s someone smoking on every available bench.
PhilaU should adopt a stricter smoking policy. There is a long list of colleges in the country who have gone completely smoke free, including neighboring campuses such as Eastern University and Widener University. Widener was the first four-year college to do this back in 2009. It would be hard for PhilaU to go completely smoke free right away, but we could take steps in that direction. At Virginia State University, smoking is not allowed within 50 feet of the entrance of any building. That would be a great first step to take, since many students have expressed that entering and leaving classroom buildings is when they’re most bothered by the smokers.
The Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative has chosen November 17, 2016 as the day for campuses to take a 1Day Stand. The mission is to help people quit tobacco for one day, and to experience a smoke free campus for one day. If we can do it for one day, maybe we can do it every day.
To learn more about the 1Day Stand, visit the Tobacco Free Campus website. To start making your voice heard, you can also take this short survey gauging the student body’s interest in going smoke free.