FREE SMOKES

While discussion around a smoke-free campus is illogical, following the Student Senate’s adoption of a resolution advocating designated smoking areas, on-campus smokers should remain respectful of their surroundings

| 4/7/13 6:37pm

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundations, there are currently 1,161 colleges and universities in the U.S. with smoke or tobacco-free policies, 33 of those are in the state of Michigan.

At Grand Valley State University, the current smoking policy, as outlined by GVSU’s Policy Manual, mandates the “25-foot rule,” which prohibits smoking within “25 feet of any GVSU building, within 25 feet of any GVSU bus stop on University property and within 25-five feet of the Little Mac Bridge on the Allendale Campus.”

Since 2009, the issue of on-campus smoking has been relatively dormant in university policy, but with last week’s Student Senate adoption of a resolution to create designated smoking areas that smokers would be required to use when smoking on campus.

Led by Senator Tim Layer from the Educational Affairs Committee, the resolution is aimed to protect students, faculty, and staff from secondhand smoke and to reduce the amount of litter on campus. When Layer was asked about his long-term ideas, he said this could possibly lead to a smoke-free campus.

Layer however, doesn’t have the full support of his fellow senators with his smoke-free idea.

In the article on the front page of this issue of the Lanthorn, Senator Doug Krusell told fellow senators that he supports the resolution but not the idea of a smoke-free campus.

“With smokers being the minority, I think that we need to be a representative government and make sure that we are protecting them as the minority,” Krusell said. “I support the resolution but I don’t support having a smoke-free campus.”

Here at the Lanthorn, we have to side with Krusell on this one.

Though from a health perspective, the idea of having a smoke-free campus seems reasonable, there’s one logistic flaw: where are the smokers supposed to go?

Though other institutions in the state – like Grand Rapids Community College or the University of Michigan – have successfully enacted smoke-free policies on their campuses, GVSU’s particular disposition would make that kind of policy difficult to enact. At GRCC, for example, smokers use the city sidewalks that surround them as designated smoking areas. At GVSU, the closest public sidewalks are on Lake Michigan Drive, 48th Avenue or Pierce Street. So why can’t students just use the public sidewalks near campus?

Well, because there aren’t any.

This isn’t to let GVSU smokers off the hook. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and it’s the responsibility of the smokers who made the choice to light up not to let it affect the people around them. Whether that means tucking yourself away in a less populated area or disposing of your cigarette butts properly to minimize on-campus littering, you can only expect to receive respect for your choices if in turn you remain respectful in your habits.

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