By MATT GILBERT – CENTRE STUDENT
Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to this article published in the March 20, 2014 issue of the Cento.
As the recent Cento article “SGA Raises Questions Over Centre’s Smoking Policy” stated, Centre College is one of the few college campuses in Kentucky to have relaxed tobacco policies.
Our policy, according to the 2013-2014 Student Handbook, states that “All smoking is limited to the outdoors and at least ten feet away from exits and entranceways.” Yes that’s right … ten feet.
While it is better than no policy at all, ten feet does little when it comes to minimizing the inhalation of secondhand smoke (SHS).
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, “There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Even a small amount is harmful.”
No safe level. Period.
If we do not want a total ban, the least we can do is extend the boundary and/or establish smoking zones to minimize the exposure to SHS that those who choose not to smoke experience.
The most common question I receive when talking about the initiative to widen the boundary or establish zones is: how will the policy be enforced?
In my opinion, the smoking policy discussion should be about more than just a question of enforcement.
Rather, it is a matter of respect for those who do not want to be exposed to the over 7,000 chemical compounds and over 100 known carcinogens in SHS.
According to the American Cancer Society, sidestream smoke, the smoke that comes from the lighted end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, has the highest concentration of carcinogens. This is what those who choose not to smoke are breathing in as they walk to and from class.
How does this apply to what SGA should do? Despite the claim of some that it is not a pressing issue, I argue that it is.
In my opinion, SGA should be working toward the welfare of all students.
Just as this applies to giving students who want to smoke the opportunity to do so, it also includes preventing those students who do not want to smoke from being exposed to SHS and its carcinogens.
For those who think it is not a pressing issue, I suggest that you walk to the steps of Crounse or Young in the afternoon on a bright sunny day.ust as you go to take a deep breath of fresh air, you inhale carcinogens. This is the reality a majority of the time.
Whether or not experiencing this changes your mind, it certainly changed mine and many others that I know.
Just as those who choose to smoke deserve to not have their opportunity to smoke violated, those who choose not to smoke should be granted the opportunity to breathe fresh air and avoid contact with SHS.
For the betterment of the campus community as a whole, we should establish specific smoking zones or at a minimum expand the current boundary.
It’s time we start respecting both sides of the story and each other’s decisions: both those who want to smoke and those who do not want to smoke.
To those who say the process to change the policy will be time-consuming, I say, what are we waiting for?
The time to get started is now.
Junior Representative, SGA