For as long as I can remember, everyone I know has been drilling into my head that smoking is the absolute worst thing someone can do for their body. My dad would tell stories of the one time he smoked when he was 19. My grandfather would tell me about my great-grandfather who was killed by smoking. My friends and teachers would cite all kinds of numbers and statistics about the dangers of smoking. Smoking is bad.
This might be a bit of an exaggeration — drinking bleach is probably worse than smoking a pack or two a day — but it stands to reason that we should try to help our friends who want to be help and convince those around us to give up such an unhealthy habit to live longer, healthier lives.
To that end, it’s nice to go to amusement parks, trains and restaurants without having to worry about secondhand or thirdhand smoke. I honestly relish the Stony Brook air and I’m genuinely happy that the campus isn’t shrouded by a cloud of tobacco, tainting its taste (the miasmas of weed will go to another tirade). To that end I appreciate Stony Brook’s “An Air of Respect” campaign to end smoking on campus.
For almost two years now, Stony Brook’s campus has been graced with signs exclaiming that “Stony Brook is a tobacco free campus.” It has a webpage with videos and resources dedicated to the end of tobacco’s presence on campus.
This is false advertising.
At least half the time I walk by the sign outside the library doors, I see a group of students, cigarettes in hand, taking long drags and emitting cloudy exhaust from their mouths whilst in conversation. Living in a corner dorm in James College, I’ve been graced with the heavy odor of ash twice this past week.
To be fair, the smoking has reduced. A Statesman article reported that 2.1 pounds of cigarette butts were collected outside the library last November, compared to the 14 pounds from November 2015, according to The Student Health Advisory Committee. There are a host of cessation resources for students and faculty., but there is still a lot of smoking.
In July, an email was sent to all students and faculty about giving people citations for smoking. In addition to a claim that University Police will increase their presence in popular smoking areas, the email stated that even students could reach out to Healthier U to request cards and give their very own citations. The email goes on to explain the proper procedure but stops short at explaining what kind of consequence the citation/violation incurs.
I’d like to see if any of this actually happens.
I’m also slightly concerned. Along with the hours of my life that I’ve sat through lectures about the dangers of smoking, I’ve always been warned about the potent addictive quality of tobacco products. To put it more likely than I should, I wouldn’t be willing to buy a pack of cigarettes that cost more than ten dollars, have death warnings written all over them on a daily basis. And what kind of smoker do you know who only smokes one pack a day? Is it fair to penalize these people for their addictions?
I appreciate everything that Stony Brook has been doing to decrease the smoking on campus. I think that if they want to be able to advertise a tobacco free campus, some sort of citation might be the way to do it. Maybe, like amusement parks, we should have some kind of smoking area where people can feed into addictions they are trying to break without disrupting the rest of the community.
Seeing Stony Brook truly become tobacco free would be a breath of fresh air.