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Opinion

Smoking ban necessary on campus

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February 19, 2009

What makes UW-River Falls unique? What makes us stand out from the rest? What makes this campus different? What benefits does this school provide that others don’t?

These are all questions you should be considering if you care about this college. There are many possible solutions to this question, some of which have already been implemented.

I’ve decided that in this week’s column, I’m going to offer one of my own. This “solution” has gotten quite a bit of coverage and I find it’s a point that needs to be driven home.

What I’m referring to is a smoking ban in Wisconsin and more specifically, on the UWRF campus.

Twenty-two states have implemented a statewide smoking ban, including Minnesota and not including Wisconsin. River Falls’ only policy on smoking is that it is banned in all restaurants that make 50 percent or greater sales from food.

I’m not sure I fully understand how that is helping. Instead of banning it completely, River Falls is sticking its toe into the water and seeing how cold it is. It’s a half-hearted effort.

Along with state policies, more and more campuses are making an attempt to or are implementing smoking bans. According to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, at least 260 colleges and universities have smoke-free campuses. That number does not include campuses that designate certain areas smoke-free.

As of January 2009, seven Wisconsin colleges and universities were 100 percent smoke-free: Alverno College, Chippewa Valley Technical College, Medical College of Wisconsin, Nicolet Area Technical College, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County, UW-Platteville and Western Technical College.

Now that I’ve hit you with all the statistics and facts, here is my view on the subject. It’s proven, cigarettes and tobacco can cause major health problems. If you disagree with what I’m saying, you have these things to look forward to: heart disease, aneurysms, bronchitis, emphysema, stroke and possibly death. If you are a non-smoker who’s in disbelief, listen to this: secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, lung cancer, lung infections, asthma and death. I understand that smoking is a person’s choice. However, it is not my choice to breathe in secondhand smoke.

It affects me, the health of other students and faculty. The 25-foot rule was a good idea, but it doesn’t work. Most people do not follow it and what exactly are the penalties for breaking it? I’ve never heard of anyone receiving a fine or penalty and if so, please let me know. If this University prides itself on “going green” then it should certainly understand the benefits and the need for a smoke-free campus.

A smoke-free campus means less cigarette butts lying around and overall better air quality. It would make the University stand out among others and would draw interest from potential new students. Having to walk elsewhere to smoke may also encourage those who do, to cut back. The fact is, I don’t enjoy having to walk through a cloud of smoke to gain access to the door of an educational facility. Smoking is disgusting and I don’t like smelling, seeing or breathing it. Smokers seem to argue, “Give us our freedom.” I argue, “Stop polluting mine.”

Cristy Brusoe is a student at UW-River Falls.