Health and Fitness: Secondhand smoke an unwanted part of college experience

After graduating from Rider, I look forward to a diploma and a job, but I think I’m going to pass on the lung disease. I hope that Rider can allow my dream to become a reality by saving my precious lungs from the smokers that blow secondhand smoke into my face on a daily basis.

On any typical day, students can be seen walking to class, and many of them are smoking around other students. As their cigarette smoke lingers in the air, they leave a trail of smog in their wake as they continue to walk. Some non-smoking students don’t mind breathing in the smoke, but others find it utterly repulsive.

If students want to avoid breathing in toxins and carcinogens unwillingly, they have a couple courses of action: They can either hold their breath and swiftly jog around the cigarette smoke, or continue walking behind the smoker with their sleeve, also known as a homemade smoke-filtration device, over their mouths in order to purify the air they breathe in.

Rider students are allowed to smoke on campus as long as they are about 25 feet away from every building on campus. However, it is obvious that some people take this rule as more of a suggestion. Every day, smokers can be seen less than 10 feet away from the doors of any building on campus. This is a nuisance to the students at this school who do not smoke cigarettes.

There is no point in telling smokers the extensive list of reasons why smoking is bad for them. They know the risks and are willing to put those chemicals into their bodies and deal with the side effects. Almost everyone on this college campus is an adult, and the choice of whether or not he or she wants to suck in the air from a lit cigarette is his or hers. The problem is not the smokers, but the effect they have on the nonsmokers.

Secondhand smoke can cause breathing problems such as coughing, mucus, chest discomfort, asthma attacks, pneumonia, bronchitis and reduced lung function.

Secondhand smoke affects other parts of your body as well. Years of research has shown that particles from secondhand tobacco smoke can settle into your hair, clothes and other surfaces and stay there even after the smoke is gone. These particles form carcinogens — cancer-causing agents — as well.

Some people may think that breathing in a little bit of smoke on your way to class is not a big deal, but it is a big concern. Even the shortest amount of exposure to secondhand smoke can be damaging to someone’s health.

Stronger rules prohibiting smoking on campus need to be proposed and enforced. How about a designated smoking area? Students can gather in a specific spot and freely smoke their cigarettes a safe distance away from the other students.

Another likely impossible option is putting a smoking ban on campus completely. This is the best option considering that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The only way to protect the nonsmokers from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke is to prevent the smoking from happening completely. A campus-wide ban could even help some of the smokers on campus quit, or at least cause them to smoke less.

A smoke-free campus would lead to healthier students, fewer smokers on campus and an overall happier experience at Rider for everyone.

– Paige McAtee

Junior journalism major

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