Smoke on the Hill

I don’t enjoy having to get into Hill Hall as quickly as possible in the mornings simply to avoid my exposure to the stench of smoke. It forces me to eliminate a few more precious moments that could be spent breathing in fresh outdoor air.  It even limits the number of people I can greet before class. Even if people smoke 15 feet away from the building like they’re supposed to, it’s still quite difficult to avoid the smoke. And, as an English major, this isn’t something I want to have to do for the next four years of my academic life since I’ll be spending most of my time around that building.

On Oct. 13, the question of if smoking should be banned on campus was discussed in the forum. Before I went to this meeting, I thought that a ban on smoking might be the best option for this campus. It would certainly reduce the amount of smoke I’m exposed to. But since, I’ve slightly modified my stance in part because, though the administration could probably enact a campus-wide smoking ban, it would not be met without resistance.

“I think that one of the risks that the school would run with trying to impose a ban is the problem with implementing a policy that won’t be followed and then the administration just having to deal with the fact that they’ve now put up one rule that won’t be followed,” said one female student.  Another female student likened a smoking ban to Prohibition.

Furthermore, a smoking ban would not necessarily result in people quitting smoking. It would only force them to find new places to smoke.

One female student expressed concerns that a smoke-free campus would result in smoking students having to go to Pennsylvania Avenue to smoke. “I don’t feel comfortable going down to the outskirts of campus to smoke,” she said. “I feel like my safety would be compromised if a smoking ban were proposed on campus.” She later said that if students had to go off campus to smoke, residents of those areas would complain. Additionally, a male student said that by increasing the foot traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, the risk of crimes committed against students would also increase.

A few students who spoke at the meeting expressed feelings that banning smoking on campus would negatively affect admissions. Although I feel prospective students who smoke would not like this, prospective students who do not smoke would. Even when I toured this campus as a prospective student, the fact that smoking is a big thing on campus was really obvious.

Though forcing people to stop smoking through a ban is not the best idea, I still would like to see smoking disappear from this campus. I want people to stop smoking for their own sakes, not only mine. I want people who smoke to realize that smoking is not healthy to their bodies or the bodies of others and to recognize that there are better things to do than sit around and smoke.

I do not believe that people who smoke are inherently bad people. People at the 411 meeting who smoke discussed their opinions very graciously and with a lot of class. One male nonsmoking student even said that the people who smoke at the discussion were the nicest smokers he had ever met.

I’ve met plenty of nice and interesting people on this campus, and I care about their health and well-being. A few of those people happen to smoke, and it’s disappointing to me that they do so. It makes me sad to see good people waste their health and money on what I see as a silly and harmful thing to be addicted to.

Therefore, I want to see this campus take the initiative to end smoking on campus. If we can recognize that smoking isn’t good for any of us, then we can work together to stop it.

A freshman male nonsmoker who does not support a campus-wide ban on smoking said that when it comes to smoking on campus, “I think there are a lot of great cultural changes on campus we can make, a lot of great policies we can enforce.”

The college has attempted to take steps in the past to get people to quit smoking. According to McDaniel Coordinator of Fitness, Intramurals, and Wellness, Scott Singleton, “We did try to get something off the ground for stopping smoking and using tobacco products earlier this semester. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough sign up for the Health Department to come over here to conduct the program. We would love to put together those programs for those individuals who are interested in trying to quit smoking, and the good news is the Health Department is very supportive, offers those programs free of charge, and they happen often.”

Singleton also mentioned, “There’s a Great American Smokeout which is taking place in November, and that’s something that we have an opportunity to be a part of as a campus, both students and our employees.”

“We’d like to help those individuals who would like to stop smoking,” said Singleton, citing that 70 percent of smokers want to quit but only five to 10 percent are able to do so on their own, according to the American Cancer Society. “So we need to provide the resources for those that are interested, and it’s not an easy process,” he said. “But these programs are available and we’ll keep at it until we’re successful.”

Programs to quit smoking need to be more heavily promoted. It is not enough to promote a smoking cessation program through the campus email announcements; the people in charge of these programs also need to create fliers and posters in order to make people as aware of these programs as possible.

Prevention of smoking is also a key issue that should be addressed. McDaniel freshmen are now required to complete Alcohol-Wise, a third-party alcohol abuse prevention course. It would be a reasonable idea for the college to find or develop a course that similarly addresses health and social issues regarding smoking and tobacco use and require that incoming students take it.

Students can also be responsible for ending smoking on campus. For example, it would be a great issue to bring up in Choices at the start of each new school year. Perhaps other events and performances can take place throughout the year to encourage people not to smoke or to quit smoking.

Until we can minimize smoking on campus, there are things we can do to make smoking less irritating for those who do not smoke.

A lot of people who have an issue with smoking on campus cite that those who smoke do not follow the established rules for smoking, like standing 15 feet away from buildings. Those who smoke should be the ones responsible for enforcing those rules. However, we need to improve the communication between smokers and non-smokers in order to further enforce the rules.

A female student said things would be better if “we had signs by the door to remind people they need to be a certain amount away from the door. If someone is too close, and you tell them ‘hey, you need to move back’ you have a sign there to back you up.”

A number of members of the campus smoking population who attended the 411 meeting said that they would like areas with covering and other for-smoking areas, so long as these areas would be numerous and convenient. That way, students who smoke in between classes would not have to go out of their way to smoke and then be late for class.

While I would like my exposure to smoke be as limited as possible, I’m not such a big fan of these ideas. First of all, I don’t want to see the College devote a lot of money to the construction of overhangs just to cater to one group on campus. More importantly, I would not want to see any more “segregation” on campus occur. As a relative outsider to this college, it seems that the various student populations on campus are very divided, and they would become even more divided if students who smoke were cut off from the rest of campus.

A lot of those who smoke said that they smoke or began smoking for social reasons when they arrived to McDaniel. I recognize that it’s really important for students to make friends and be social; it’s certainly important to me. But I have to wonder, why aren’t more students turning to student organizations on campus as an outlet for friendship? The college should be focusing more effort on promoting student involvement than on making it easier for people to smoke on campus. Perhaps the college can organize more events for students to meet each other and socialize.

I don’t know how effective the surveys sent out by the college are, but I think a logical next step to addressing the issue of smoking would be to send out a survey asking students whether or not they smoke and what their feelings about smoking on campus are. This would probably give a much more accurate reflection of student opinions on smoking than did the 411 meeting, which was attended by a limited number of people.

It’s really important to keep discussing the issue of smoking on campus and for smokers and non-smokers alike to communicate whatever issues they have. By no means should the smoking discussion end at the Campus 411 meeting. However, with cooperation and the involvement of both students and the administration, we can come close to putting a voluntary end to smoking on campus for the benefit of all.

1 Comment on "Smoke on the Hill"

  1. Let's keep the discussion going! How do you feel about smoking on campus?

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