Portland Community College decided to become smoke-free in the fall of 2009. They were just one of the many colleges in Oregon, and by extension, in the United States, to become smoke free campuses. Most people know that smoking is bad, but how bad is secondhand smoke? Many people that go to campuses dislike breathing in secondhand smoke. PCC’s policy, as of fall 2009, to become a non-smoking campus, was a wise decision that listened to the students.
Secondhand smoke does not just smell bad and taste bad; it is bad. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that come from the end of a cigarette (which is called sidestream smoke), and the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker (which is called mainstream smoke). According to Cancer.org in their article “Secondhand Smoke,” they state: Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in nicotine and other toxic chemicals just like smokers do…. Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. In the United States alone, each year it is responsible for: * Increases in the number and severity of asthma attacks in about 200,000 to 1 million children who have asthma * More than 750,000 middle ear infections in children
* An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers * About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults
By choosing to smoke, smokers affect non-smokers around them, and the ramifications can be deadly. According to the article, there are over 49,000 deaths per year in the United States caused by secondhand smoke. The smoker may not realize that he is affecting so many innocent people; yet he is, and according to the article, “50,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually” are caused by secondhand smoke. The small children and babies do not have a choice whether or not to be around the smokers; yet they are the ones who suffer. When a person decides to smoke, that person may not know what impact he is making on the environment and populous around him, but others feel it and get impacted by it, sometimes instantaneously. Lane Community College students and employees were surveyed March-April of 2008, and lungoregon.org states, “One-fourth of respondents have experienced immediate health effects from secondhand smoke exposure, such as wheezing, coughing, or allergic reaction.” If one out of every four people experience immediate side effects when exposed to secondhand smoke, the dangerous implications of secondhand smoke are apparent. Inhaling secondhand smoke can be deadly and undeniably has serious side effects. The alarming datum about secondhand smoke is the fact that there is no minimum limit to having bad side effects. Secondhand smoke is harmful no matter what amount is inhaled. It has different degrees of effects depending on the amount inhaled, but every little bit of smoke is damaging to the body.
Most students know that secondhand smoking is bad. Most students do not like to breathe in secondhand smoke. A survey taken by Lungoregon.org underlines this fact. Lungoregon conducted a survey of 500 community college students in Oregon, and found out that “71% say they are bothered be secondhand smoke on campus.” Moreover, the survey shows that “54% say they are exposed to secondhand smoke on campus at least a few times a week. 34% are exposed to secondhand smoke every day.” Given the high amounts of students affected by secondhand smoke, it comes as no surprise that “two-thirds of the students agree that they would choose a ‘smokefree’ college over a college that allows smoking on campus. 47% strongly agree.” Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary college in Oregon with over 86,700 students. If they were to go smoke free, it would be more appealing for students to attend classes at their campuses, instead of other colleges. It is important that colleges consider the opinions of their students, and PCC did the right thing by listening to their students, and then taking action to promote the right thing. They first considered just creating smoking areas for people to smoke in, but then realized that it would still perpetuate the problem of breathing in secondhand smoke. Students who walked by the smoking areas would still be inhaling the harmful chemicals. They decided to make the whole college smoke-free. Because this was such a huge undertaking, they implemented a break-in period. Students do not have a right to smoke. A student may feel that the college is taking away his rights when the college restricts the substances that may be used on the campus. But that is not so. The student does not have the right to smoke, chew, or use tobacco on campus. The student also may not realize that by choosing to smoke, and smoking on campus, he is depriving other students of their rights, such as the right to live. The students who do not smoke are able to avoid the secondhand smoke to a degree, but very often, it is unavoidable. Because smoke is a gas, it is able to creep everywhere. And even the environment gets affected, not just the populous. Smoking pollutes the air. Because there are approximately 4000 chemicals in cigarettes, when they get expelled into the air, they are tainting the atmosphere with an enormous amount of pollution; especially considering that “Out of the total North American population 30% of them are smokers and the percentage of the smoking population in developing countries is much higher. This indicates that an enormous quantity of pollution is being released in the atmosphere every day” (smoking.ygoy.com). In addition to that, smoking cigarettes is a main cause of fires. Globalissues.org noted…“the impact of fires caused by smoking (10% of all fire deaths, killing 300,000 people, costing $27 billion).” Because cigarettes are available to anyone over 17 years old, people with any background or upbringing can use cigarettes. And there is no “safe smoking” class that people have to take in order to use cigarettes. People can be as careless as they want, and no responsibility falls on them to smoke responsibly. The fires caused by smoking cigarettes and carelessly littering the burning stubs kill many people every year. The second environmental issue that smoking causes is the amount of littering that the cigarette stubs leave. According to Who.int, 20% of the trash collected in the United States of America was cigarette butts. It costs the government money to clean the streets, money that comes from taxpayers. Money that taxpayers can’t afford to have wasted on something that could be avoided. Portland Community College knew that having smokers smoke on campus was causing them to lose money and spent it on cleaning the campus when it could be avoided altogether. When they thought about having designated smoking zones on campus, they realized that they were still going to be losing money because they would still have to clean all the cigarette stubs off the streets. One of the financial decisions that they decided to make was to have all campuses tobacco-free. The main problem with the policy is that all the smokers that used to smoke on campus usually have nowhere to go to smoke. For instance, at the Rock Creek campus, smokers smoke in the parking lot even though it is still not allowed, because they do not feel that they have the time to transport off campus to smoke. At the Cascade campus, even though the campus is smoke-free, because it is in the heart of Portland, students and non-students alike smoke less than ten feet from the doorways, because the campus grounds end at the street. For smokers that want to abide by the campus laws, going to a smoke-free campus presents some challenges. The smokers still have the need to smoke. Portland Community College has recommended that people who feel the need to smoke while still on campus take lozenges, gum, or other methods to satisfy their cravings besides tobacco. One of their purposes though, in creating many obstacles for smokers on campus, is to encourage smokers to quit smoking. Portland Community College has made an admiral decision in deciding to make all campuses tobacco-free in order to protect the environment, the non-smokers, and the smokers themselves.
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