Clearing the smoke: University needs a cigarette solution

Many students that come to St. John’s instantly become at least one of two things: in debt or a smoker. Smokers need a place to smoke, non-smokers need a place to breathe.

Most of the students do not actually smoke cigarettes, but everywhere they go on this campus, they are confronted with second-hand smoke.

It’s everywhere.

A lot of students feel almost paranoid about it because every time they turn around, someone is pulling out a pack, or just about to light another cigarette.

Most students do not care what others want to do with their body or their money, but cigarette smoke is a health hazard to both those that smoke, and those that are unfortunate enough to want to enter a building to learn.

“Honestly, it’s like I can’t even breathe when I leave those buildings,” said junior Annalisa Mondesir. “I shouldn’t have to suffer because people want to smoke by the building entrances. Why should my lungs have to suffer because these people want to smoke? That’s not fair.”

The ingredients in cigarettes are deadly. Cigarettes are usually made of some or all of the following: formaldehyde, benzene, phenol, hydrogen cyanide, and styrene. Formaldehyde, apart from being used in embalming fluid, is also used in many fertilizers. Benzene is a regular ingredient of gasoline, while phenol is used in many disinfectants. Hydrogen cyanide is commonly used in pesticides, and styrene is used in Styrofoam insulation. They don’t sound too appetizing, but maybe they are just an acquired taste, who knows.

According to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, second-hand smoke contains more than 40 cancer-causing chemicals that are inhaled and absorbed by non-smokers. Two-thirds of the smoke from a burning cigarette is not inhaled by the smoker but remains in the surrounding air.

For these reasons, smoking is just as important as the problem of on-campus drinking. For a Catholic university that prides itself so much on being a “dry” campus, something should be done about the smoking problem as well.

While non-smokers should maintain the ability to not inhale second-hand smoke, smoker’s rights must be taken into consideration.

“I don’t smoke but the smokers don’t have anywhere else to go….” said junior Naomie Macena.

Where could smokers move to? Advocating the elimination of all smoking on campus is not feasible, or fair to the smokers. Instead, the University needs a way to move smokers away from the doorways of buildings, a rule that exists, but is rarely enforced.

“I don’t think that students should be smoking so close to building entrances,” said sophomore, Francesca Messina. “When I smoke, I try to be as far away from buildings as possible, and I think that if the University put up smoking shelters, it would be a good idea.”

St. John’s is always erecting new buildings, and since the fall of 2003, they have constructed a field house, new tennis courts, basketball courts, and a new church, just to name a few.

The University needs to build smoking shelters to help alleviate the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Shelters are used at many schools and workplaces, why not here?