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SGA sparks a cloudy debate

December 20, 2012

MOORE

 

Grace Moore
Entertainment Editor

 

 

It is about time someone lit up the topic of on-campus smoking, and all of us smokers are feigning for a good fight.

 

A few weeks ago, a Student Government Association senator wrote a resolution to ban smoking on campus. For those who don’t know, a resolution is essentially a formal recommendation for the university administration but it must be passed in the SGA before action may be taken.

 

Resolution No. 12-13.3 says “The student body would encourage the administration to take consideration in taking the steps necessary in making Louisiana Tech a smoke-free campus.”

 

However, this resolution is actually moving for a 100 percent tobacco-free campus, which is a little bit different.

 

You chew tobacco? Spit it out.

 

You quit smoking regular cigarettes and switched to electronic cigarettes instead? Not anymore.

 

I understand the conundrum behind second-hand smoke (SHS) and its effects, but chewing tobacco? I think SGA may be stepping on a few steel-toed boots with that decision.

 

Before this ban is even considered, a few things should be mentioned.

 

First, there is already a vaguely enforced “reasonable distance” statute on campus requiring smoking to take place at least 25 feet from all university buildings.

 

Second, the author of this resolution is a very recent ex-smoker.

 

And last, a smoking ban would create more issues than it would prevent.

 

For example, nicotine withdrawal is a very real thing.

 

Imagine how a smoking ban would affect a large portion of Tech students and their abilities in a classroom setting.

 

According to netdoctor.co.uk, “A smoker’s nervous system becomes accustomed to functioning with nicotine … the reduced nicotine intake will disturb the balance of the central nervous system, causing withdrawal symptoms.”

 

Symptoms may include anger, weight gain, concentration problems, depression, insomnia and anxiety. Is it really worth turning a portion of the student body into zombies so the walk to math class is slightly more pleasant?

 

Let us now turn the table and investigate the reasons to ban smoking on a college campus.

 

Cigarette butts are everywhere. No one wants an ugly campus.

 

Yet there are no buts about it, SHS is the primary reason for a smoking ban.

 

According to an article written for slate.com, James L. Repace, a biophysicist researcher, said, “Generally, average levels within 0.5 meters from a single cigarette source were quite high and comparable to indoor levels, and outdoor tobacco smoke (OTS) levels at distances greater than 1 or 2m were much lower.”

 

To experience the same levels of SHS you’d find indoors, you would need to stand less than two feet from a smoker. A passerby walking seven feet or more from a smoker will find his or herself in “background” air, which is safe and clean air to breathe.

 

“SHS concentrations persist for hours after smoking ceases indoors, while OTS concentrations dissipate rapidly after smoking stops outdoors,” Repace said.

 

Actually, if a designated area were defined on campus, it would cause the SHS to be far more pungent and harmful. The smoke dissipates almost instantly, but more smokers leads to more smoke, and without a good breeze, before long, you’ve turned the Lady of the Mist into a fog machine.

 

In the end, there will always be other research, newer conclusions and long lists of all the things we are killing ourselves with, but we should still be able to maintain control over our personal freedoms.

 

My name is Grace Moore, I have been smoking on-and-off for two years, and I am against the smoking ban.

 

Grace Moore is a junior journalism major from Waterloo, IA, who serves as entertainment editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to gmm008@latech.edu.

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