Courteous is an English adjective meaning respectful or polite in manner. It comes from the Old French corteis, which itself was based on the Latin cohors. A synonym for courteous is considerate. An antonym for courteous is the Drew students who smoke in the Adirondack chairs outside of McLendon.
The smoking problem at Drew isn’t limited to this one spot. I’ve seen people smoking on benches. I’ve smelled leftover weed smoke in the McLendon elevators. I’ve even talked to someone who saw a student vaping in the grill line at the EC. Drew University is a smoke, tobacco and nicotine-free campus; we have a page on the website to prove it. Why, then, does walking across campus some days feel like sticking your head up a chimney?
The Drew University Smoke, Tobacco and Nicotine Free Policy prohibits any type of smoking — including vaping — as well as all other tobacco and nicotine products. It applies to all buildings on campus and all outdoor spaces, so basically every inch of land owned by Drew. The purpose of this policy is to “promote a culture of wellness, and to protect the public health and welfare of the Drew community.” Which brings me to my next point.
Smoking kills. Everyone knows this. You’ve heard it a million times and at this point, I assume you don’t care. Quite frankly, if you want to destroy your own health, I don’t care either. But what you should care about is everyone else. Cigarettes contain somewhere in the range of 60 known carcinogens, and secondhand smoke has proven to be deadly.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over 7,300 non-smokers die every year from lung cancers related to secondhand smoke. Nearly nine out of every 10 deaths from lung cancer are caused by smoking in some capacity. And it’s not only the lungs that are affected; the risk of cancers in the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, larynx and blood are all heightened as well. If you want to give yourself cancer, go right ahead. What I want is for people to stop doing it in places with so much foot traffic.
I assume that by now everyone on campus knows about the no smoking policy, so why doesn’t anyone care? There are consequences for violating the policy: Section VI of the policy states “Students, faculty, and staff who fail to comply with this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, which may include warning, fines, or other progressive sanctioning.”
So why, then, does the problem continue? My guess is that not enough reporting is happening. What may be the problem here is that the incident report form is not as well advertised as it should be. Luckily, I have found it, and I encourage all of you to use it liberally. There is a section to fill out an offender’s name and student ID number, but since it’s more likely that you’re reporting a stranger, there is a section to put down the time and location of the incident so any cameras in the area can be checked.
So how do we solve Drew’s smoking problem? I would advise adding a mandatory information session on the dangers of smoking to orientation. Ultimately, I think the best way to keep people from smoking everywhere is to make it very unpleasant. Outdoor smoke detectors have been invented (though they’re fairly new and used mostly for wildfire detection) and, if they become commonplace and affordable, I think we should install them in as many places as possible and make sure they make a really terrible noise or activate some kind of sprinkler. For those who wish to avoid toxic chemicals in their lungs, wearing a mask may help filter out secondhand smoke.
To the smokers on campus, I think you are making a mistake. There is no safe way to smoke, and you can get in a lot of trouble. It just is not worth it. I hope you can find it within yourself to stop, because I just cannot condone that kind of behavior.
For smokers who are seeking assistance, resources on quitting can be found at smokefree.gov. For non-smokers who are seeking less smoke, the incident report form can be found here. If there’s something that makes you feel how I do when I smell cigarette smoke, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll take care of it.
Ollie Arnold is a junior majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science.