As I walk through campus every day, I find myself dodging cigarette smoke and it makes me think: Why should I have to move to get out of the way of the smoke?
NMU is not currently smoke-free, but it should be. Our school motto is “Northern. Naturally,” but how can we be natural and eco-friendly when there are cigarettes everywhere on campus and people breathing in second-hand smoke?
The university has done many surveys to find out how students feel about becoming a smoke-free campus, and both sides came out to show their support. Smokers say they don’t want to go off-campus to smoke, which is understandable, and non-smokers don’t want to be surrounded by smoke.
I know, I’ve heard many times, “Why don’t you just walk around the smoke?” Well, that is just not fair to non-smokers. We have to walk out off the path just to avoid smoke, which doesn’t always work depending on what way smokers blow their smoke. The smokers should be the ones to walk off the path and let the non-smokers have the right of way.
There are rules that smokers must follow if they decide to smoke on campus. According to the student handbook, smokers “must stay at least 30 feet away from buildings, dispose of their litter properly, and be courteous at all times.” Not one of these rules are followed, let alone enforced.
The reason that smokers must be courteous to others is, of course, to reduce the amount of second-hand smoke. In a recent study, it was found that approximately 600,000 people die of second-hand smoke every year. That is definitely a huge number of deaths due to others’ smoking habits.
If I wanted to die of lung cancer or heart attack or emphysema or any one of the many ways to die from smoking, I’d pick up a nasty cancer stick and just smoke it myself.
In the U.S. Surgeon General’s report, it was concluded that secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children, as well as adults who do not smoke. That sounds to me a little like murder. How is it legal to let someone cause a premature death of someone else? In any other case, such as causing a death by unintentionally giving someone food poisoning, it is illegal and the person is charged with murder. I don’t think Northern wants to be responsible for something like that.
If NMU became a smoke-free school, it would set an example to other public universities around the state, which would set a precedent for even more schools. Schools can serve healthier food or offer gym memberships, but if they still allow students to smoke on campus none of those things matter.
Smoking is dangerous, period. Why would NMU want to be a part of something that causes so many deaths, especially to those who don’t smoke? I don’t know the answer to that question, but hopefully, in the future, I won’t have to think about that, because Northern will become smoke-free.