Penn State Should Become a Smoke-Free Campus

It’s something we learn from an early age, and it’s engrained into our minds through our education, extra-curricular programs, and even major advertisements.

Yet, people still take part in something that they know could eventually kill them. To this day, it still boggles my mind.

Why on earth do people still pick up cigarettes? You’ll never be able to explain it to me. Sure, I might be stubborn about it, but I think it’s justified. I’m forced to breathe in disgusting smoke on a daily basis on this campus. I’ve had people close to me suffer from lung cancer without ever having touched a cigarette. I can surely tell you every negative effect of smoking and secondhand smoke; however, I’m sure you’ve heard it before. If you’re unaware, just pick up your pack of cigarettes and read the Surgeon General’s Warning.

In New Jersey, smoking was banned in most public places years ago. No longer do you need to suffer from the horrible smell and feeling after coming in contact with cigarette smoke when you go to the bowling alley or even a bar. The law even affects beaches and other outdoor areas. So, needless to say, coming to a campus full of smokers was pretty eye-opening for me.

I had obviously come in contact with smokers before, but not to this degree. Simple things like walking to class and going for a jog all of a sudden became an issue because I would get stuck behind, or even just walk by, someone blowing smoke.

Like I said, I just don’t get it. I understand that there is an addictive side to it, but, I don’t see why one would even pick it up for the first time. It’s not an image thing. I can tell you right now that, for most people, smoking is a turn off. Nothing says grimy like yellow teeth and constant coughing.

I can also tell you that millions of kids across the country participate in the D.A.R.E. program. They’ve also seen the “truth” campaigns against “big tobacco.” It is common knowledge that smoking is a direct link to lung cancer. You know it’s bad for you, so why do it?

These are the thoughts behind potential plans to make Penn State a smoke-free campus. Courtney Lennartz, President of the University Park Undergraduate Association, spoke at their weekly meeting yesterday about how many other schools have smoke-free policies on campus, including several Penn State branch campuses. She said that Penn State administration might be receptive to that policy, although conversations are still in the preliminary stages.

If you can’t tell, I couldn’t be happier. This should be implemented far and wide. It’s your decision to smoke, but it should be done in a place that I, or any one else who wants to stay away, don’t have to come in contact with it. This could even become a benefit to those attempting to quit. With no place to smoke, they’ll be forced to smoke less throughout their day on campus. I am in full support of this move, and I urge this initiative to move forward.

Sure, people could argue that making this campus smoke-free would be a violation of their rights, but, what about my rights to breathe clean air that are violated on a daily basis?