Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Opinion: Warnings make smokers behave

              Trying to defend smoking cigarettes is the equivalent of challenging Mike Tyson to a fight. The negative health effects of smoking are well documented and accepted as absolute truths.
            The question facing Midland College is do we make the campus smoke-free or enforce the current smoking policy? I'd advocate the latter of the two options. The current policy, if enforced, addresses the issues with second-hand smoke and allows smokers to be on campus.
            I have been smoking for 13 years and tried quitting several times. Stressors from life, deaths of loved ones, divorce or financial problems have brought the habit back. Recently, the pressure of returning to college after a long absence has caused me to pick the habit back up. Taking a smoke break allows me to have an excuse to take a "breather" from homework and studying. I am worried about the health risk and have contemplated quitting.
            Smoking and second-hand smoke has been linked to most types of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and COPD. Smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and women. About 80 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are caused by smoking. The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in men and women in the United States. The problem is that people still smoke and MC needs to decide how to handle the smoking policy.
            The current MC smoking policy only permits smoking in more than 15 designated areas around campus. These designated areas are identified on the campus map in the catalog. MC policy prohibits the use of all types of smoking products, including electronic cigarettes, outside of the designated smoking areas.
            The confusion comes from having ashtrays outside the smoke zones, and not distributing the maps. Smokers do not know where they can or cannot smoke; most students neglect to read the catalog. Many smokers have switched over to the electronic cigarettes or vapor pens because they are "supposedly" healthier. It's a common misconception that they can be used anywhere.
            Most smokers do not enjoy being addicted to cigarettes, and they do not like smelling like an ashtray. They feel guilty for having a disgusting habit, and they are aware that most people think they are crazy for smoking. Making MC a smoke-free campus not only alienates student and faculty smokers but it create unnecessary tension and stress in them as well. Enforcing the current policy is a better option.
            Handing out warnings and a map of designated smoke zones, to students and faculty in violation will go a long way to enhance the current policy. After the first warning, a ticket could be issued. Knowing about a fine would motivate smokers to learn where they can smoke and would protect non-smokers.
            I feel comfortable with this type of policy. I do not smoke in my house or my car, and not around children. I believe smokers should be respectful to those around them. I understand why some students and faculty members want a smoke-free campus, and it comes from smokers being disrespectful.
            The best option to keep MC open to everyone would be to enforce and spread awareness about the current policy.

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