Cigarettes may soothe a student’s nerves after a long harsh day at school, but what happens when smokers become a living threat to non-smokers on campus?
Last week a student was walking on the sidewalk near the Technology Building when his destination was cut off and delayed by a group of socially active smokers. They innocently obstructed his pathway while strolling at their own leisure. The wind was also blowing their secondhand smoke in his direction. He was forced to make a run for it and quickly dashed through his adversaries while holding his breath. He kept running until he reached his target location, the Administration Building.
People have been getting exposed to elements such as this since the cigar was invented in ancient times. Today it’s no secret that secondhand smoke causes health problems while government websites like cancer.org state that, “Secondhand smoke is classified as a known-human-carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization.”
But what are non-smokers on campus doing to solve this problem? For the most part, they can either toddle around the fumes of others or they can contact the Executive Vice President of Student Life & Leadership, Robert Corbridge, and have him voice their complaints to the Senate.
The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act requires smokers to stand 25 feet away from a public entrance to avoid harming people who may suffer from respiratory disabilities. The school has posted anti-smoking signs near each building entrance to remind everybody of this law. According to TobaccoFreeUtah.org, “The Utah Indoor Clean Air Act is designed to protect Utahns and visitors to the state from exposure to the harmful effects of environmental tobacco smoke (commonly called secondhand smoke). In general, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed indoor places of public access and publicly owned buildings and offices, UC 26-38-3(1).”
Most smokers at Salt Lake Community College respect this law by puffing-up their smoke signals near every sign.
But what good are these rules if non-smokers are forced to endure these unhealthy conditions when entering or exiting a school building? Should they be required to survey which direction the wind propels to avoid such dangers? The Environmental Protection Agency has stated on their website, “Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks.” Are people with inhalation problems meant to endure the jeopardy of respiratory arrest at our community college? Or should they be reduced to circling a building until they find an entrance without a smoker guarding its path?
On the other hand, smokers are constantly seeing laws and advertisements rise-up against them. Most smokers are oppressed in the media while feeling demoralized with sentiments of not having politicians speak out on their behalf. But at the same time, various smokers refuse to see what they’re doing to others in our culture and decline to give a damn about anyone. If they did, they wouldn’t infest our college grounds with haze, smog and pollution.
The most diplomatic way to solve this campus-wide problem might be for smokers and non-smokers alike to address their concerns to our student body officials. Only through political sanctions and communication can we all make our school a harmless place to pursue an education. On the other hand, smokers should be aware that the laws are not against them personally or their rights as American citizens, just against their secondhand smoke.