Should smoking be banned in public? The movement to decrease smoking nation wide is in full effect. From restaurants to college campuses, the smoke-free sign is visible and glaring.
Although the United States government has yet to take a stance on the issue of smoking, it is up to the first-level jurisdictional and occupational safety and health laws to determine where one is allowed to smoke. As of January 1, 2015, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, “81.8 percent of the U.S. population lives under a ban on smoking in workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars, by either a state, commonwealth, or local law.”
There are designated smoking areas in baseball stadiums, amusement parks and fair grounds. Starting on the first of October, it will be illegal for a one to smoke in a vehicle while a minor is also in the vehicle.
The first college to go smoke-free was Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo. in 2003. The idea was originally planted in 1999 after the clouds of smoke became a nuisance for the school’s president. Many schools began to follow this trend, and as of October 2, 2015, there will be at least 1,620 smoke-free campuses. However, studies show that 24.8% of full-time college students aged 18-22 years old were current smokers in 2010.
UMBC started its smoke-free policies in July of 2013. The USM Board of Regents has required all USM institutions to “provide a healthy, smoke-free environment for all faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors.” This all means that a lot of smokers have to go somewhere. At many schools, UMBC included, students are offered a secluded area where they can freely smoke. The smoking shelters, which are located on Park Road and behind the Fine Arts building, help make smoking an even more socialized activity. Up to 20 people can be found in the designated areas almost every night.
The societal norm that smoking is evil is something that has been drilled into millennials’ brains, since the movement against smoking began before we were born. Countless studies show the side effects of smoking, and it’s clear connection to cancer and other diseases.
But it brings up the question, if you’re not a smoker, why do you care what others do? Studies have shown the dangers of second-hand smoke, but in open air, it doesn’t seem to carry the same weight as it does inside a building. To smoke or not to smoke is a decision made by an individual, and by creating a smoke free campus is an infringement on that right. The isolation of smokers on college campuses creates an unwelcoming environment. The solution? If you’re outside and someone starts smoking, walk away!