The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Johnnie Camel

It was 10 o’clock in the morning on my first day back at St. John’s for the fall semester. As I was heading to my classical archeology class in Marillac Hall, I was forced to hold my breath until I was safely inside the comforting warmth of the staircase. Even the dank air that surrounded me now seemed a relief to breathe in.

I had just been attacked by myriad students and their second-hand smoke.

It seems lately that smoking on campus has increased. Some students barely even wait to be outside to light their cigarettes, they give themselves a head start by lighting in the stairway.

Aside from being socially distasteful, smoking is a major health hazard, and it is ironic that people who have achieved such high levels of education choose to ignore this important fact.

So why are students so compelled to smoke when it has become such an expensive habit nowadays?

“My reasons for smoking are social,” Sarah Motelb, a junior biology major, said. “Most of my friends smoke, so I was inclined to start as well.”

To me, however, that is not a good enough reason. To quote the famous parental question: “If your friends decided to jump off a bridge, would you do it?” Another student I asked said that he smoked to alleviate stress. Between classes and a very hectic work schedule it is very hard to go out with friends, so a few cigarettes a day are the most convenient way to dull the headaches.

Well, what about the rest of us? Are we doomed to inhale smoke just because some students and staff are addicted to nicotine? Of course not! The University has rules about everything, and sure enough there is one about smoking on campus.

Rule number 23 under the Code of Conduct of the St. John’s University Student Handbook says: “…Smoking is prohibited outdoors in the following areas: within 40 feet of building entrances and open windows. Smoking is also banned entirely in entryways and exterior stairwells.”

The rule is there, but an unenforced rule might as well be a nonexistent rule. The students I spoke to had no idea that they could not smoke next to a building entryway, or that they were committing a violation “punishable by sanctions imposed in accordance with the judicial process of the University.”

So where is the glitch in the system here? Do the public safety officers really care about our safety? Do they go around campus doing their job? I am sure most of them do, but the smoking problem goes almost 100percent unnoticed.

I asked an officer what the legal distance a person must keep from an entrance if they are smoking. He said that he didn’t know anything about this, and advised me to go to the law school, since this was a legal issue.

Another officer, Robert Leo, who was also a smoker, was familiar with the rule, but as for enforcement, he said that one cannot go to each building doorway and fend off the smokers. He said that when he smoked on campus, he did it following University regulations.

Forty feet from an entryway or an open window is a considerable distance. Half this distance would suffice if only it was followed properly by all smokers on campus, but what are we to expect from people that do not even care about their own health?

The very fact that one can smoke on University grounds is a freedom. Shouldn’t we count on our fellow students and staff to respect our freedom and allow us to breathe clean, adequate air? What is that one paragraph in the Student Handbook worth? Absolutely nothing, if students don’t know it exists.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.
All The Torch Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *