To breathe or not to breathe?

By Clarion Editorial Board

The right of the non-smoker to be unthreatened by the toxins of cigarette smoke are unavoidably violated through the tolerance of smoking.

The crushed cigarette butts strewn all over the sidewalks and planters across campus have become an all too common sight at Citrus. This is in stark contrast to the 1,372 college and university campuses in the U.S. that have completely eliminated smoking.

Why does Citrus have yet to adopt a smoke-free policy?

The health risks of smoking are universally understood, yet anyone who steps on campus is vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke.

Citrus’ lax tobacco policy confirms administrators’ indifference to the health of the campus community.

Posted on the college’s website, the present tobacco use policy states: “While it is universally known that regular use of tobacco products poses a significant health risk, it is important to find some balance between an individual’s decision to use tobacco products and the right of the non-smoker to be free from the atmospheric effects of them.”

It is impossible to guarantee any rights to non-smokers because of the rights commissioned to smokers. The ambiguity of this smoking policy demonstrates the lack of concern for non-smokers at Citrus.

E-cigarettes are no exception. According to the FDA, they produce carcinogenic tobacco-specific nitrosamines in the aerosol. Although the levels of these harmful chemicals are under investigation, there is little doubt that e-cigarettes are bad news for health.

For non-smokers, exposure to secondhand smoke immediately threatens the health of the cardiovascular system and increases the risk of a heart attack. Non-smokers who already have heart issues or asthma are at an even greater risk of damaging their health.

In the United States, secondhand smoke exposure causes about 34,000 annual heart disease deaths among non-smokers. Even more astonishingly, non-smokers who are vulnerable to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their lung cancer risk by 20 to 30 percent.

Why should non-smokers have to hold their breath walking from class to class for the sake of  the smokers’ privilege?

Permission to light up on campus is a travesty. Smokers have abused this privilege and have left evidence of their disregard for campus policy by leaving cigarette butts littered throughout campus and feeling free to light up  wherever they please.

Citrus can no longer justify its loose interpretation of tobacco use. It is imperative that the board of trustees reconsider the importance of the health of the student body and faculty.

All UC and Cal State campuses have already adopted smoke-free policies and Citrus should follow in their footsteps.

Pasadena Community College District has implemented a smoke-free policy, empowering the students and the staff to report smokers who violate it.

A fine of $25 is issued to smokers who fail to comply with campus policy; the fine is increased by an  increment of $25 with each offense.

The college should consider establishing similar guidelines in an effort to create a smoke-free campus. Citrus can no longer neglect the fact that tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death.

If the Citrus community proceeds to overlook the campus policy on smoking, we promote a detrimental health choice.

If we choose to condone smoking, then we deprive students of their right to air uncontaminated by cigarette smoke.

It is imperative that Citrus redresses their tobacco policies. It is both the student body’s and the administrators’ duty to pursue this with the utmost concern for this college community.