Smoke-free trend spreads nationally, nudging SLU students to make a choice

Peony Lee / Chief Illustrator

What kind of air do you breathe? – More than 500 colleges and universities around the nation have given serious thought to this question, adopting a smoke-free policy for their campuses.

Washington University in St. Louis is already smoke free, and the University of Missouri-Columbia estimates it will have a smoke-free campus by 2014, leaving Webster University and Saint Louis University behind in the race for a clean campus environment. Whether SLU joins the cause or adopts its own policy for a smoke-free campus in the future is up in the air, and the decision falls upon present and future students’ shoulders to either fall behind or catch up.

Smoke Free SLU, a student group, has been pushing for a healthier campus since it began in 2007, and they have left their mark on SLU’s campus. While Smoke Free SLU has not succeeded in making SLU’s campus smoke free, they are responsible for the policy that requires all students to smoke 20 feet away from any doorway.

However, because its 10 members are all currently seniors, ready to graduate, they no longer have someone to whom to pass the torch, to whom to pass the responsibility of caring for a community that neither seems strongly opposed or strongly in favor of having a smoke-free campus.

As active members of SLU’s campus, students must take on the responsibility to decide whether to follow the current trend or set its own smoke-free policy.

Is smoking prohibited 20 feet from a doorway enough for SLU students? It is not common, but neither is it rare to inhale a whiff of smoke crossing Grand, and as is well known, second-hand smoking is a serious hazard to those who are victims of it. Students who smoke exercise their right to do so every time they light a cigarette and walk through campus with it in hand. Students who do not smoke should also exercise their rights to a clean and healthy environment by voicing their opinion, whether void or valid.

Current policies should be adequately enforced and further research must be done on what SLU students want. Smoke Free SLU’s legacy should be carried on, either to implement current policies more effectively or to move forward with a whole new set of regulations. To be apathetic to issues that affect SLU students’ daily lives is to be numb to a community that continually needs feedback.

Students should take a stance, whether for or against a restructuring of the smoking policy, for the issue is currently revolutionizing colleges and universities across the country. The only position SLU students should not take is that of no position at all.