Like most girls, I have a list of qualities I want and don’t want in a potential boyfriend. At the top of the deal-breaker list — along with “won’t commit” and “has hooked up with the entire freshman class” — is “he smokes.” I could never date a guy who smokes.
First off, he is killing himself. Second, his secondhand smoke would kill me. And third, the smell alone would be enough to send me darting in the opposite direction.
Emory University, which currently has standards in place against smoking both in buildings and within 25 feet from them, is seriously considering banning all tobacco products on the entire campus. The policy will likely take effect next fall.
So, knowing I don’t want a relationship with a guy who smokes, why should I pay an arm and a leg to go to a four-year college where I might end up losing a pair of lungs in the process? I shouldn’t have to. Therefore, I agree with the tobacco-free policy, and I only wish Emory had implemented it sooner.
Everyone knows smoking is bad — really, really bad — for your health. And yet many people — 21.8 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — still do it.
Smoking kills. There is no, I repeat, no benefit to smoking. None. It doesn’t make you “cool,” and it doesn’t make members of the opposite sex like you more. The CDC has no statistics on that, so you’re just going to have to take my word there.
Some may feel that Emory doesn’t have the right to ban smoking on campus. Smoking is legal, and we have the right to put toxins in our bodies. Very true.
But Emory is a private university and has the right to ban smoking on its property. And since we’re talking about rights, shouldn’t I have the right to clean air and to live my complete life, as opposed to a shorter, smokier version of it?
Emory has an obligation, not only as an institution of higher education but also as “the largest, most clinically comprehensive health system in the state of Georgia,” to encourage a healthy lifestyle for its students and its community. Banning tobacco is a positive and necessary step toward that goal.
Although I don’t encounter cigarette smoke everywhere on Emory’s campus — in fact, I think the Emory community is pretty good about not smoking in general — there are some areas where there is always a noxious cloud of poisons and carcinogens. For example, Emory is fortunate to have a hospital right on campus, but Emory is unfortunate to have visitors leaving the hospital area to smoke outside near Cox Hall instead.
It’s not just the greater community, though. It is practically impossible to walk in or out of the library without inhaling some other students’ disregard for the “You must be 25 feet away from this building if you would like to suck toxic chemicals into your body” sign.
I realize I am only coming into contact with secondhand smoke for a short amount of time — and I’m usually holding my breath, anyway — but to quote the CDC, “There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.”
So, why, at a private research university, should I be forced at all to endure the health risks from others smoking?
The CDC website goes on to state that in the United States, secondhand smoke exposure causes approximately 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult nonsmokers. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their lung cancer risk by 20 to 30 percent.
Being forced to breathe in smoke walking into the library, knowing (or even not knowing) those statistics, is not okay. Emory should be doing everything possible to protect its students and community from harmful health effects.
As a graduating senior, I won’t reap the benefits of this policy. I can only hope that the members of the Emory community will be open to and accepting of this change, seek the numerous cessation resources offered by the University if needed and taking it upon themselves to enforce the policy.
I had a good four-year relationship with Emory. But I’m telling you, it definitely would have been better without the smoke.
Senior Editor Christina White is a Business School senior from Orlando, Fla.