Finally, in the year 2014, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents ruled to make public universities tobacco free. It’s a statewide policy that follows other states bans on university campuses. Over 1,200 universities and colleges across the nation have tobacco free policies in place. The decision for the Board of Regents is not only long overdue, but indicative that the Board has a vested interest in the health of our universities’ students, faculty, and staff.
I don’t need to go into the gruesome details of how smoking kills. If you combine every war-related death from the Revolutionary War up to the present day, that total is only 10% of deaths compared to the number of deaths caused by cigarette and tobacco use. Smoking kills more than 480,000 people in the United States alone every year. That is more than deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol, motor vehicle accidents, and firearm-related incidents combined. Smoking causes more than 90% of all lung cancer deaths. Smoking releases carcinogens into the body that lead to cancers in nearly every organ: bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidney, larynx, liver, pancreas, stomach, trachea, lungs, and heart disease. There is no doubt or concern that smoking, cigarettes and tobacco use lead to considerably higher health risks not only to the smoker’s body, but to those around.
As a non-smoker, I can only begin to understand the desire to smoke, the sad addiction to nicotine, or the pleasure of smoke billowing from your mouth like an Industrial Revolution chimney. I cannot put myself in your shoes, having to rush out of class right at 2:54PM to go to the stone steps outside the glass walls of the College of Business or the Clough and puff away the years of your youth. I value my body too much to poison, rot, and decay my insides like that.
I can, however, assert with all my authority not as anyone more than a fellow human being, a student, and global citizen, that smoking is not something I want around me. Banning smoking goes beyond the distasteful smell. It goes further to protecting my own health and well being, and the general health and well being of our entire campus. Banning smoking highlights just how critical our students’ health is, and that we as a community of educated individuals, should stand in solidarity and support the well being of our student body. And that is something that I will fight for, no matter how many people may feel off put by it.
In the previous Letter to the Editor, it was said that by enforcing this tobacco ban, that we are like “Nazi’s, Soviets”, and “evil autocratic forces”. I ardently believe that these statements are highly vulgar, and solely used as a provocative shock tactic. There is nothing about this ban that parallels to that of Nazism, Socialism, or Communism. The writer further called for the student body to “vandalize” school property, and “persuade” police officers. Vandalism is simply clear disrespect to the Institute, our initiatives, and our values, and even further, the University System of Georgia. There should be no incident where a student actively, facilitates, or calls for vandalism of school property. The Georgia Tech Police Department is a unit of the Institute charged to protect the community, and enforce the rules, regulations, and laws on a variety of tiers: from the Institute, City of Atlanta, and state entities. I am appalled that a Georgia Tech student would even consider persuading an officer of the law to condone illicit activity. For the writer to pen such dangerous words, is truly, an embarrassment to himself, the Technique, and Institute.
Change and progress do not occur under people who remain silent. I applaud the Board of Regents for instating this new policy, expect for the Institute, along with our fellow universities, to follow the policy, and count on the police departments, the Deans of Students, and all affiliated individuals to maintain and enforce this policy.
If you’re on campus and you see someone smoking, please, kindly remind them of the new tobacco free policy. Invite them to seek cessation programs. If they continue to smoke, then they can be refereed to the Dean of Students for a more formal conversation.
It is my hope that less and less students will smoke, poisoning their bodies, and by extension, ours as well as casual bystanders. But, now, I will no longer be a bystander.
Third Year, Business Administration