By: Joe Suszczynski
In early February, Senator Chris Murphy sent Central Connecticut State University President, Jack Miller, a letter regarding his initiative to make CCSU a tobacco free campus. In the letter, he stated that United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) started the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative in September 2012. Murphy cited the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation saying nearly 1,200 campuses are smoke-free with 811 of them being tobacco free. Also, in the letter, Murphy cited all the statistics regarding the use of tobacco ranging from how many deaths it causes every year to how much it costs in healthcare.
I can respect Senator Murphy’s initiative to make CCSU a tobacco-free campus because he means well and wants to help people. He does have solid evidence to back his initiative. The only thing is that I do not agree with the senator because making CCSU a smoke or tobacco-free campus would be taking away a student’s right to choose.
I have a “live and let live” philosophy on life where, within reason, you should be able to do whatever you want with your own body. If you want to smoke, drink, etc. you should be able to — provided you are of age to use said substances. However, one should also know the consequences of using said substances. If you heavily use tobacco, the chances of developing cancer, or some other illness related to tobacco abuse, you are responsible for doing that to yourself; the same goes with drinking alcohol.
Another reason why CCSU should not do this is because nothing will change, even if CCSU joins the initiative. What I mean by this is that it will be harder to enforce. Signs around campus say that a person has to be at least 25 feet away from a building when smoking; many students who smoke disregard that. If CCSU joins the initiative, I question how hard the school will crackdown on smoking when there is not much done about people smoking right next to the buildings — from what I have seen at least. Students will find other ways to smoke on campus because, if they want to smoke that bad, they will find a way to do so. College kids can be pretty crafty.
I also understand the consequences of secondhand smoke. By the statistics given in Murphy’s letter, about 50,000 people die from secondhand smoke a year. That is horrible. These people do not even smoke, yet can still develop the symptoms of someone who does.
What I would suggest is that CCSU take its own initiative and make designated areas for smokers to smoke. They can select certain areas of campus and mark them appropriately with signs so smokers can smoke without disturbing anyone else. I am willing to bet that most of the smokers on campus would be willing to comply with that rule. I think designated areas would be a fair compromise.
I respect Senator Murphy’s intentions to make CCSU, like other colleges in Connecticut, tobacco-free, but he should also understand that people should have the choice to smoke if they choose. I understand that secondhand smoke can be as bad as smoking itself, which is why I would suggest CCSU to set up designated smoking areas.
Smoking can be curbed by other methods, but this effort to eradicate tobacco all together on college campuses seems excessive.