I feel like a third grader walking through six-grader territory. As I am entering the building heading to class there is a gauntlet of smoke I have to walk through. Now, explain to me why I have to go inside to get fresh air and why do I have to go through this gauntlet to get to my class? This is not to ostracize smokers, what they do to themselves is their own business. How their smoke affects me then becomes my business. It is my belief that everyone is a good person, until reasoning tells me otherwise. So this has nothing to with character-this has to do with where smoking is permitted.
You can go on and on about the smog in the valley, telling me how much more damaging it is than second hand smoke. Smog is a whole other environmental issue. The difference between state pollution and smoking in front of buildings boils down to common courtesy. I place the responsibility of the common courtesy component on the school. Understandably, if I were a smoker this past week, I would want to be as close to the door as possible. There are signs that state you have to be 25 feet away from the building, but this only creates a gauntlet of smokers 20 feet away from the doors. At some point I have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get in or out of each and every building.
Making designated locations for smoking is not taking away anyone’s freedoms. In fact, by creating designated smoking spots you actually give freedoms back to everyone who want to breathe fresh air outside. Crazy notion, I know. I write a health & fitness column for the school paper, it was only a matter of time before I wrote something on smoking. By now, everything else about smoking is cliché. If you don’t know by now that smoking is bad for your health, then welcome to planet earth.
Smokers have a choice to continue to bully their smoke onto non-smoking students and faculty or make a statement and create designated smoking areas away from non-smoking students. In doing so, we may all walk to and from class smoke free. If you are so inclined to be that cool, I will make sure to write my next smoking article about how frakin’ cool I think you really are. For the school and whoever makes the policies, like the cool benches out by the water fountain, here is your chance to help me, and others like me breathe healthier air.
School should be a place free from intimidation and prejudice, where students take initiative to make changes. We are not children but future leaders who will one day buy a house, invest in stocks and perhaps build a family. Not too long after that you will most probably get fired, watch your stocks plummet and lose your house. Until then there is always hope and my hope is that I can walk to my classes without breathing second hand smoke.