By Theodore Kortenhof
College is a time for young adults to begin to make their own decisions in regards to their health and well-being. While this is an important aspect of student life that extends to all decisions—from bedtimes and mealtimes to the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs—students must keep in mind that their actions affect the entire Lawrence community.
Smoking is a decision that has repercussions for everyone on campus. I support the right to smoke, however, when this decision inconveniences others, I feel that change is in order. Smoke emitted by a few affects the collective community, not just the person holding the cigarette.
According to a 2003 press release on Lawrence’s website, smoking was first limited on campus when Kohler Hall became smoke-free in 1994. In 2000, all Lawrence buildings were made smoke-free, and on July 1, 2004, Lawrence adopted its smoke-free status. This status extends to all Lawrence-owned locations, including campus vehicles and even the London Centre.
Lawrence’s smoke-free policy means that smoking is banned on campus in all but three designated areas: the smoking shelter in front of Ormsby Hall, the smoking shelter between the Warch Campus Center and Trever Hall, and the Viking Room patio when the bar is in operation. Smoking is allowed on public sidewalks along College Avenue, but not walkways on campus.
Despite these regulations, smoking on campus is a frequent occurrence. It is not uncommon to see people wandering the walkways of campus with a cigarette in hand. Last Winter Term, smoking directly outside the doorways of residence halls was also a common incident. The Ormsby front steps were a frequent smoking venue despite their close proximity to a smoking shelter. The resultant fumes permeated the building, reaching even to the second and third floors. This made the smoke inescapable for Ormsby residents.
Lighting up in undesignated locations may not seem like a big deal, but it is disrespectful to the Lawrence community. Smoking on the walkways around campus leaves nauseous clouds in the path of other students. Most heinously, smoking in dorm rooms introduces smoke directly into the residence hall: an annoyance to which a smoker’s neighbors will readily attest.
To some, smoke may have an even larger impact. Smoke in the air can be a major annoyance for runners and cyclists, making it harder to work out. More importantly, to those with asthma and other conditions affecting the airways, seemingly harmless smoke can trigger symptoms that make the air unbreathable.
Lawrence’s smoking regulations exist for a reason. No one should be unwillingly subjected to a smoky atmosphere. While only a small portion of students smoke where they should not, it only takes one person smoking in restricted areas to cause problems.
Smoking on campus is a problem with a solution already in place. There are locations on campus for people to smoke. The only issue is that those who should make use of them decide not to, at the expense of the rest of campus.
While making the trek to smoking shelters can be an inconvenience, they should be respected. As a residential campus, Lawrence is more than just a school to its students—it is a home. It is not fair to pollute one’s home with foul vapors. Just as I do not wish to tread on anyone’s right to smoke, I ask that smokers avoid infringing upon anyone’s access to clean air. There are designated areas for smoking. Please use them. Before you light up, take a moment to consider those around you.