Editor’s Note: This is the Pro argument in The Index’s Pro-Con debate on on-campus smoking. To read the Con, click here.
With many campuses switching over to smoke-free campuses, including Western and Kalamazoo Valley, we at Kalamazoo College need to at least fully consider the benefits of becoming smoke free.
Secondhand smoke harms nonsmokers, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), so we shouldn’t have to be in an area where we are potentially at risk.
I know smokers don’t intentionally harm people, but it’s simply a product of smoking, and can lead to serious health concerns such as heart or lung damage.
The only sure way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking in all homes, worksites, and public places, according to CDC guidelines.
For all of us, K is essentially a public place, and for plenty of us this is also our home. The CDC states that there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke. So even if it’s just inhaling it on our way to the cafeteria, or into the library to study, any little bit can be dangerous.
Another issue is that nonsmokers have to walk out of their way if they see someone smoking and they don’t want to be around smoke. Although enforcing the “no smoking within 25 feet of an entrance” rule would be helpful, it is still not a solution. There are still walkways that people would have to avoid to get to their class since there’s someone smoking there.
Not only that, but making specific locations okay for smoking makes it more exclusive to other smokers, which can be problematic when a popular area, like the small picnic tables between hicks and the quad, is inaccessible to non-smokers who don’t want to be exposed.
In addition, Dr. Abigail Halperin found in 2003 that, despite the smoking restrictions that were in place, many campuses still failed to meet the recommended guidelines from the American Cancer Society, American College Health Association, and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.
This suggests that just enforcing these rules is not going to make this campus any safer or healthier for us.
Also, smoking isn’t good for the environment. Not only does the smoke pollute the air, cigarette butts are particularly bad when littered.
At the beginning of the year someone posted a picture in the Kalamazoo College Student Body Facebook Group showing a large pile of cigarette butts near Trowbridge. These butts can take years to break down, and in the meantime, can be toxic to plants and animals around it.
This would not take much effort from smokers, either. K College has a small campus, so it’s very easy to get away and find a nice park to light up in.
Based on all this, it’s clear that the best way to protect students, the environment, and our campus, is to simply go smoke free.