Each day, 47 million smokers in the United States are doing serious damage to their bodies as well as creating a harmful environment for the innocent people surrounding them. The use of tobacco products is extremely dangerous and most users are not aware of the impact on their local environment. “Secondhand smoke is a known human carcinogen and contains more than 50 chemicals that can cause cancer” (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). This issue has become a concern on college campuses where students congregate in front of buildings and in other densely populated areas. At West Virginia University, a proposal to ban smoking on campuses has been made. As with any new ban, there will be some controversy, however, smoking bans have become more and more popular in the recent years. West Virginia University and other Universities have a right to ban smoking because they must protect the rights of their non-smoking student’s health (Fortin, 2007). As of 2011, over 500 college campuses across the country have eliminated smokers, creating a better and healthier environment and even reducing the number of smokers (Steinberg, 2011). “Since a smoking ban was implanted on campus at Michigan State University, more students sought assistance in quitting (USA Today, 2011). If people wish to do harm to their bodies by using such a destructive substance, they should be forced to do so in an area far from others who do not wish to inhale these chemical toxins. “Comprehensive smoking bans can reduce secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007). By banning smoking on WVU campuses, students will be breathing cleaner, fresher air and will not have to worry about what might be poisoning their air. Smoking does serious harm to a person’s body and only gets worse over time. “Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health” (National Cancer Institute, 2012). The damages are immeasurable and smoking related diseases cause one in five deaths in the United States (Guillory, 2010). Every single day at least one new person begins smoking. By making it harder and more inconvenient for people to smoke, there is a higher chance in reducing the numbers of smoking in that particular area. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that approximately 69% of smokers want to quit smoking anyway (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). By banning smoking on campuses, it will be less convenient for students to smoke, making it more of a hassle and less appealing to them. According to the American Council for Drug Educators, people who haven’t used tobacco before the age of 21 are likely to remain non-smokers (American Council for Drug Educators, 1999). Because most college students range from the age of 18-22, banning smoking can reduce the number of first time smokers and in return create non-smokers for life. Although smokers may be outraged by the ban, smoking bans do not violate a constitutional right to privacy, nor are smokers a protected group of persons (Public Health Law & Policy, 2005). At Montana State University, most of the outrage came from university staff and faculty. The students were more accepting of the new policies, "With our generation, smoking bans are almost a given," Abbey, 21, says. "We never had the opportunity to smoke in a building. We never really had the opportunity to smoke on an airplane. Few of us smoke in our homes. The prohibition seems like a natural progression of the community outlook on tobacco use" (Daneman, 2012). By having these universities ban smoking prior to West Virginia University, this university can use those schools as a learning tool and prepare themselves for the reaction of both the student and faculty populations. Banning smoking on the West Virginia University campuses will create a healthier environment for both smokers and non-smokers attending the university. After the ban, there will be fewer congregations of smokers outside of public buildings and in the town centers, which will hopefully then in turn reduce the number of smokers in general. The ultimate goal is to not only stop students from smoking on campus, but for them to stop smoking completely as well. The ban may come as a blessing in disguise to those who are addicted to tobacco substances and may even save a few lives.
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