Mark Yudof announced in January his initiative to make all UC campuses tobacco-free by 2014 “in order to promote community well-being through research, education, nutrition and exercise.” UCLA, ahead of the game, has decided to implement this policy starting April 22 of this year. You go, UCLA. Hats off to you. UC Irvine should have chosen to enforce this policy earlier as well; we’d be further along on the way to have a cleaner and healthier campus.
I’ve never understood the appeal of smoking. We’re all aware of the health risks they contribute to, especially in California, where initiatives to limit exposure to secondhand smoke have been taken to state legislatures. We’ve all seen the pictures of the tar-damaged lungs and hearts at some point, as well as had the misfortune to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke.
It’s a terrible habit, and to be quite honest, if students who choose to smoke on campus abide by the rule that they must be at least 25 feet away from a building to smoke and if it was properly enforced, this measure probably wouldn’t need to be taken. I don’t need a measuring tape to show that people who stand on the steps outside Gateway and Langson lighting up aren’t at least 25 feet away. You know who you are. If you want to pay to decrease your life expectancy, fine, but don’t be a jerk and make people walk through the smoke and gag from the terrible smell by standing right outside the entrances of buildings and exposing them to secondhand smoke.
Seeing cigarette butts dot the ground isn’t an uncommon sight either; they account for a third of all the litter in California and aren’t biodegradable.
A substantially low percentage of staff and students smoke/use tobacco on University of California campuses (8 percent of students and 10 percent of employees) compared to universities in other states and the national average.
A common complaint with this initiative is that all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, are banned. It’s completely understandable why someone already taking the steps to quit smoking by replacing it with a somewhat healthier alternative would be frustrated. If the UC is going to ban them as well, they should offer access to resources that would help them quit and live a healthier lifestyle, if the ultimate goal is to indeed promote improvement in the way that people live and improve the environmental impacts.
This policy isn’t meant to infringe on personal freedoms and it’s meant to reinforce the fact that using tobacco products is harmful to both people who use them and those who are exposed to it while also trying to get students and faculty to make better decisions about how they choose to live and providing a healthier educational environment.
Nashra Anwer is a first-year literary journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Filed Under: Opinion