I once stood outside the library, finishing a coffee before heading inside for class. I was not alone; there was another person there vaping. As we both stood there the wind changed directions, causing a cloying cloud of cotton-candy-flavored vape smoke to fly directly into my face.
It was a profoundly unpleasant experience, and is among the reasons why I am pleased by Mercyhurst’s new tobacco-free campus policy. Until now, the use of tobacco products has been allowed on campus, but not inside any of the buildings. Going forward, using tobacco of any kind will not be permitted anywhere on campus. This includes cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and vaping.
I realize that, as a non-smoker, it is easy for me to throw my support behind the policy, but I believe that the new policy will benefit the entire campus community.
By now most people, even smokers themselves, are aware of the negative impact the use of tobacco products can have on one’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and is harmful to nearly every organ in the body.
The negative effects of smoking can also be passed to non-smokers via secondhand smoke, as I experienced myself on that day outside the library, and other times besides that.
Really, there is no good reason to smoke. Hopefully, the ban on tobacco will serve as an incentive to quit for smokers on campus.
Besides its negative effects on health, discarded cigarette butts significantly detract from the beauty of campus.
Although, if we’re speaking of aesthetic concerns, I am not a fan of the aggressive signage which have been loudly proclaiming Mercyhurst’s status as a tobacco-free campus.
The signs are everywhere, in the form of posters on bulletin boards, stickers on windows, and spray paint on sidewalks. While I recognize the necessity of communicating the new policy, all the signs strike me as a bit over the top.
But, it is still a minor concern. Aggressive signage aside, there’s no doubt in my mind that Mercyhurst’s new stance on tobacco will be good for everyone in the Mercyhurst community.