Kicking Our Butts

Considering a smoke-free campus

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-9-47-34-amBefore becoming a Ferris student I was enrolled at Lansing Community College (LCC) where I earned my Associate’s degree. LCC, since 2008, has been 100 percent tobacco-free. For the 10 years before that, smoking at LCC was confined to designated areas. Currently, a third offense of campus tobacco use at LCC can result in suspension or worse.

Needless to say, coming to Ferris State was a bit of a culture shock.

I did not realize that today, in the 21st century, there still existed schools permitting tobacco use on school grounds. Ferris isn’t the only school, either. There are many colleges and universities—both private and public—that still allow smoking and other tobacco uses on campus. Michigan State only recently banned the product this fall semester.

There are arguments against banning cigarettes and related products. To begin, it infringes on a person’s right to smoke; a privilege that’s otherwise legal in public outdoor settings. At the same time, secondhand smoke infringes on nonsmokers’ rights to remain smoke-free. The 25-feet-from-building-entrances rule is hardly enforced, with smokers often chatting away in doorways during wet or cold weather.

Even if you aren’t bothered by walking through clouds of smoke between classes, the growing piles of cigarette filters along walkways and school lawns must seem alarming. The university places butt receptacles in front of nearly every main building entrance, if not all. But to assume that’s 100 percent effective is akin to assuming everybody pees in the toilet.

There are those who live to disregard provided facilities.

It is safe to say every college and university will be smoke–free within our generation’s lifetime. That is simply the natural course of events. Even if Ferris State has no immediate plans to kick the habit, it can at least take steps towards it.

One good segue would be to install sheltered smoking areas in semi-conspicuous places; in sight but away from the paths and entrances of the health-respecting public. An adverse of that would be to declare certain areas smoke-free—the quad, for instance—with strict penalties in place and enforced.

Wherever you stand on the argument you could probably agree that making Ferris State a nicer, healthier place is a priority and that there’s always room for improvement. Now please excuse me while I go smoke a cigarette.