OPINION: Why smokers on campus should be mindful of other people

University policy states that one must not smoke within 25 feet of a building (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Rand/Flickr).
University policy states that one must not smoke within 25 feet of a building (photo courtesy of Jeffrey Rand/Flickr).

If you’ve been to Starbucks, Innovation Hall or the breezeway between Robinson A and B anytime recently, you have probably noticed the hoards of smokers that congregate outside the doorways and socialize. For smokers, it seems these are some of the go-to places to burn a butt between classes. Normally, smokers don’t bother me. I’ve been exposed to cigarette smoke most of my life, having two smokers for parents.

At this point in my life, I figure that if someone wants to destroy their lungs, it’s completely within their rights to do so. Frankly, it’s none of my business. However, it does become my business when I, having purposely chosen not to smoke, have to walk through a giant cloud of potential cancer every time I have to enter a building to go to my classes. It is also particularly aggravating when there is a state law requiring smokers to remain at least twenty five feet from the entrance of a building, but people are standing right next to the door and smoking a cigarette.

Why am I being a little tough on the smokers? Because, at least at Starbucks, there is a clearly visible sign on the bulletin board telling smokers to stay back 25 feet from the door, yet there they stand—right by the door. And though cigarette smoke may not bother smokers, for those that are not accustomed to inhaling it, cigarette smoke tastes awful. I shouldn’t have to hold my breath when walking into buildings. I have no problem with smokers exercising their right to smoke, but law and common decency states that you should attempt to keep your smoke away from other people who do not wish to inhale it. What makes me the most upset about this whole thing, I suppose, is the fact that smokers are showing a blatant disregard for other people. This kind of disregard is especially present when people walk and smoke, which leads to the smoke being blown in everyone else’s faces. Smokers have been told many times to stay away from entrances, and that smoke is an annoyance to people. Yet they keep doing the same thing, and then complain when people are upset with them.

A common solution I hear from smokers is how we need a smoker’s lounge on campus, and all I can say to that is “humor me.” Do we honestly tell ourselves that smokers are going to walk the distance from wherever they are all the way to a smoker’s lounge somewhere on campus just to smoke a cigarette? I highly doubt it. It will definitely not be worth the investment. A solution to this problem is simple. Smokers, stand twenty-five feet away from building entrances. And please, just as a common courtesy, don’t walk and smoke when people are around. It’s really just awful for the people around you. If you want to smoke, try to be stationary, or, if you have to move, walk where you’re not around tons of people.

And please, for all our sakes, just stay away from the entrance doors. Non-smokers, don’t make a huge deal if you do run into a puff of smoke, and don’t hassle the smokers about the health consequences of their smoking. Many of them do not want to quit. It’s  a win/win situation that way. Non-smokers don’t get smoke blown in their faces and smokers don’t have to hear other people complain. If we all just show some common courtesy to each other, I promise everybody will turn out okay on the other side. 

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