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You’re smoking, I’m choking

The University currently has a Clean Air Policy that allows smoking in designated areas on campus.

This current policy fails to recognize the rights of nonsmokers who value their health.

Everyone recognizes that tobacco and smoking have negative health consequences. Smokers and tobacco users have the right to harm themselves, but those are their rights. The dissatisfaction with the Clean Air Policy exists because it forces everyone to be exposed to harmful by-products of others bad habits.

It is time that Bowling Green State University pass a resolution to make the University smoke and tobacco free. This policy would put the University in the ranks with other leading institutions in the state and in the country, who have already developed and implemented these polices. In 2012, the Ohio Board of Regents passed a resolution recommending universities and their board of trustees consider implementing policies to establish a campus that is tobacco free.

The University of Toledo has implemented a smoke and tobacco free policy that prohibits the use of “all tobacco-derived obtaining products, including but not limited to cigarettes (clove, bidis, kreteks), electronic cigarettes or nicotine vaporizers, cigars, cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes, oral tobacco (e.g., spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff) and nasal tobacco. It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products, contain tobacco flavoring or deliver nicotine other than for the purpose of cessation.”

Several other universities in Ohio, such as Cleveland State University, Miami University, Ohio University and The Ohio State University, have also implemented similar policies on their campuses. The University should follow this example.

A smoke and tobacco free policy is imperative to the health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff on campus. The 2010 Surgeon General report concluded that there are no safe levels of exposure to tobacco smoke and that secondhand smoke poses serious health risks for all nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke has many adverse effects on health. Some negative health effects include fertility complications, cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory disease.

Smokers are not only harming themselves when they smoke in the densely populated area of a college campus, they are also putting others at risk of various negative health consequences.

Smokeless tobacco spit contains cancer causing chemicals and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smokeless tobacco begins to affect others when it creates unwanted hazardous waste and by-products on campus when it is spit out, removed from the mouth, or spit in bottles that are then littered on campus. Just as with cigarette butts, the waste products associated with smokeless tobacco create an unsanitary and unproductive environment. Try concentrating in class when someone is continuously spitting into a bottle – it does not create a productive learning environment.

As smokeless tobacco users are more likely to become cigarette smokers, smokeless tobacco’s inclusion in a smoke and tobacco free policy is important to help deter a possible increase in usage of cigarettes.

For those who insist on vaping because they consider it a healthier alternative to smoking, consider the reports that show that hazardous chemical compounds, some classified as carcinogens like formaldehyde, are found in e-cigarettes. Some University students can attest to the awful, headache causing odors that e-cigarettes emit. Even if there have been no scientific conclusions about vaping’s effect on others, these personal stories can confirm vaping has a direct effect on other’s well-being.

Creating a smoke and tobacco free policy at Bowling Green State University is of critical importance to the health and happiness of the campus community. Smoking, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarette use all have a variety of negative impacts on health, safety, and social normative behaviors developed on campus. The University needs to consider the rights of those who choose not to use tobacco products and wish to be provided an environment free of smoke, tobacco and vapor while continuing their education.

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