There are no secrets about the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Our generation has been educated about the harmful side effects of smoking since we were toddlers. Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control, each day 3,200 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette.
Our generation should be the generation to end smoking, but we have not.
Why hasn’t Elon University kept up with the science on the harmful effects of cigarettes and banned smoking on campus altogether? What good comes from allowing students, faculty and staff to smoke?
Current Elon policy dictates that those who wish to smoke on campus must do so more than 30 feet away from any university building. This policy is not well enforced, for too often students, faculty and staff smoke within this 30-foot buffer zone. Moreover, 30 feet is not too far for harmful secondhand smoke to travel.
Elon is a private university, which means it has more freedom to dictate rules and regulations on policy. For example, guns are not allowed on our campus, but if you travel just an hour down the road to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you will find students are allowed to carry guns on that state campus.
Since Elon has the jurisdiction to enforce stricter polices, I challenge the administration to ban smoking across the campus. No more 30 foot buffer rule, no more cigarette butts strewn about for Physical Plant to pick up, no more smoking at all. We have nothing to lose from this policy.
We are an institution of higher education. We are a university that offers a public health major. According to the department’s website, public health “prepares students with the knowledge and skills to address the public health challenges of the 21st century.” Smoking is a known public health hazard. The CDC states that smokers die ten years earlier than non-smokers on average, and smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world. Why would we want our students to harm themselves on our campus?
Elon consistently seeks out the best faculty and students to further enhance the university. Elon’s tremendous growth is a result of risk taking, inventive thought and a gathering of great minds. Smoking is an old-school dirty habit that causes horrific illness and death. Smoking is not in line with Elon as a leader and an intellectual community.
Historically, North Carolina made much of its fortune on tobacco. Regulation on smoking is not an easy sell, but Elon now has a national student body. We were not started with money from a tobacco heir and are not beholden to tobacco interests.
Some people might claim banning smoking on campus would be a sort of Big Brother move or part of a nanny state. They claim this would prevent students, faculty and staff from participating in a legal activity on our campus.
But hold on – it is perfectly legal to carry a gun in North Carolina, yet you can’t carry on Elon’s campus. Is that a Big Brother type of policy too? Just like the ban on carrying weapons on campus keeps Elon’s students, faculty and staff safe, a smoking ban would protect the health and well-being of everyone on campus.
Secondhand smoke is a serious issue. It has been directly linked by the American Cancer Society to 3,400 deaths from lung-related illnesses in non-smokers, 42,000 deaths from heart-related illnesses from non-smokers as well as up to 300,000 lung infections in non-smokers each year. Breathing should not be a casualty on a college campus.
The data collected by a survey of Elon students suggests that the community would support a campus-wide ban on smoking. 578 students said they believed Elon should ban smoking. This was more than double the amount of students who said they did not believe Elon should institute a campus-wide smoking ban.
Our university has never shied away from making progressive change in order to secure a better future. A campus-wide ban on smoking would be another step in the right direction for Elon as the university continues to ascend the ranks of nationally recognized high education institutions.