More colleges are going smokefree every year. The latest are the University of Oklahoma, the University of Oregon and Montana State University. The University of California system’s campuses will be tobacco-free (no smoking, no chewing, no selling) by 2014, USA Today reports.
In all, 774 college campuses around the country are smokefree, and 562 are tobacco-free (meaning no form of tobacco may be used). Even the Obama administration is making a push for tobacco-free campuses.
So what about the D.C. area? Towson University went smokefree a while ago. The University of Maryland recently announced it will do the same. Others? Not so much. Students who pushed to make American University smokefree ran into a brick wall of an administration. Letters Smokefree DC sent to other area campuses went unanswered.
School administrators can ignore this issue only for so long. It is undisputed that secondhand smoke is a health hazard. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals, 69 of which are known or suspected carcinogens, such as arsenic and benzene. Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmokers, and exacerbates respiratory illnesses.
By making a campus tobacco-free, schools would dramatically reduce student and faculty exposure to secondhand smoke. it would have the added benefit of saving many students from ever becoming addicted to tobacco. That translates into less illness and suffering down the road.
I wonder what the leaders of Georgetown University, George Washington University, Catholic University and American University would say to that.