Stand up for a smoke-free campus

  • Follow Opinion columns

Tobacco use is one of those topics sure to get passionate responses, both from those for and against it.

Tobacco users argue their “right” to use cigarettes and other products, while nonsmokers say they deserve to live and work in healthy environments without the haze and harmful effects of secondhand smoke (and thirdhand smoke that clings to clothing and other surfaces).

No matter which side you fall on, it’s a fact that across the United States, universities and health systems are making the choice to create healthy living and working environments for students, faculty and staff. Ever since Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo., became the nation’s first smoke-free college campus in 2003, more than 1,100 campuses have followed suit. The Center for Tobacco Policy foresees that nearly all college campuses in the United States will be 100 percent smoke-free in 10 years, according to a CNN report. It’s estimated that more than 3,500 hospitals, health-care systems and clinics are smoke-free.

All of us – even those who choose to use it – know the harmful effects of tobacco use. Ninety percent – 90! – of all lung cancers can be directly related to tobacco, and it also is a risk factor for eight other cancers, including head, neck, esophageal, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervical and blood cancers – not to mention cardiac disease and stroke.

AND WHAT ABOUT those nonsmokers who breathe in the haze of secondhand smoke in their workplaces or classrooms, or from outdoor public ashtrays? A statement by the surgeon general of the United States issued in 2006 is equally applicable today: “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” In addition, the surgeon general’s report also found that levels of cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke and, even more, that breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmokers by up to 30 percent.

Georgia Regents University kicks off its smoke-free campus campaign March 20, which is appropriately named Kick Butts Day. Our goal is for our entire campus to be smoke-free by fall 2013. As a sponsor of this initiative, the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center is working to provide community education on the benefits of quitting, the dangers of secondhand smoke and help for those looking to quit – including tobacco cessation services offered through our cancer center.

After all, our students are the leaders of our future – and it is important to educate them on the benefits of living tobacco-free by providing a healthy learning environment. Studies have shown that smoking affects cognitive function, including memory, but that quitting can reverse many of these effects.

It is our responsibility as a university and as a cancer center to provide a cleaner, safer and healthier learning and working environment for all our students, faculty and staff – and to help improve public health. On March 20, instead of taking sides, we hope we can agree to stand together and take a positive step in reducing cancer risk and promoting a healthier community.

(The writers are, respectively, director of the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center; and executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at GRU. Both are co-sponsors of GRU’s tobacco-free initiative.)

Comments (18) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
82180
Points
Riverman1 03/18/13 - 06:36 am
4
0
It says on the GRU campus.

It says on the GRU campus. Does this mean both the Summerville and Frog Hollow campuses? No smoking outside the hospital?

Bodhisattva
5976
Points
Bodhisattva 03/18/13 - 07:22 am
6
1
You can't smoke, but you can

You can't smoke, but you can buy artery clogging junk in the cafeteria all day long. Extra bacon, extra mayo, and extra cheese on the fried chicken sandwhich please. Oh, and chili cheese fries too please.

Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 03/18/13 - 07:50 am
4
0
Zealots

Forbidding employees to smoke outdoors seems way over the top to me. Where is your tolerance, Drs. Khleif and Caughman?

Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 03/18/13 - 07:52 am
3
0
Riverfront

Hey, don't forget the Riverfront Campus, RM. Do you intend to forbid the homeless folks from smoking on the Riverfront Campus, Drs. Khleif and Caughman? How many campus cops will it take to enforce that?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/18/13 - 09:05 am
4
1
The banning of legal
Unpublished

The banning of legal activities.....sheesh.

Bizkit
30661
Points
Bizkit 03/18/13 - 10:08 am
5
0
All the Baby Boomers either

All the Baby Boomers either smoked are were around second hand smoke in homes, school, and work-it was a part of the culture. Even got em in c-rations in the military. Now if second hand smoke were so bad why aren't 90% of us with lung cancer? I support the smoke free environment so I suggest a smoke in where everybody lights up so its like a hazy juke joint on a Sat Nite and everyone is suffocating. Ya know an example why we want smoke free zones. What about medical marijuana when it becomes legalized in our state-will that be allowed near hospitals? Oh they hypocrisy. hee,eeh, hee.

Young Fred
16597
Points
Young Fred 03/18/13 - 10:21 am
6
0
While they're at it, they

While they're at it, they should "Stand up for a BS-free campus".

Little Lamb
45281
Points
Little Lamb 03/18/13 - 01:05 pm
3
0
While they're at it,

how about an Azziz-free campus?

CobaltGeorge
155077
Points
CobaltGeorge 03/18/13 - 01:36 pm
1
1
Just Why

wouldn't the authorization of Electronic cigarettes solved all the problems of those that do and those who do not smoke? It would also provide a better health situation for those that smoke.

Fiat_Lux
15043
Points
Fiat_Lux 03/18/13 - 01:51 pm
1
1
Funny, but I thought it already was a smoke-free campus

Everybody has gone off-campus to smoke for years, including patients. It is absolutely amazing to see patients in their hospital gowns pushing their IV poles w/ pumps across Harper Street so they smoke next to the VA parking lot fence.

I don't oppose the campus ban one bit. It's not a ban on a legal behavior, but rather a restriction regarding where it can take place. No one with asthma or smoke allergies should be having to deal with tobacco smoke, even by inadvertently running through a cloud of it outside.

If you've never watched a loved one die because of their smoking or because of their spouse's smoking, or struggle to breathe because of asthma or smoke allergy induced brochospasm, you simply can't appreciate how awful it is seeing them struggle not to suffocate or cope with terrible pain.

Deaths from lung cancer can be pretty darn gruesome, and deaths from asthma are not uncommon. How would you like to discover you were the cause of someone asthma death? It happens.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 03/18/13 - 03:26 pm
3
0
just go for a quickie in the

just go for a quickie in the restrooms like normal people

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 03/18/13 - 03:34 pm
3
0
I am an ex-smoker and I've

I am an ex-smoker and I've heard they can be the most critical against smoking but unless someone has gone through the process of breaking the addiction to tobacco, I don't believe you can fully understand how difficult it is.

I find tobacco smoke highly offensive now but feel there needs to be an area (not in front of any doorway) to accomodate those who choose to continue to smoke. Why is it that we want to tell people where they can smoke because it is harmful but we do nothing to curb the use of alchohol. I'd much rather walk by someone who is smoking that to have a drunk drive by me after drinking.

burninater
9396
Points
burninater 03/18/13 - 03:54 pm
1
1
ICL, alcohol use IS curbed.

ICL, alcohol use IS curbed. It is currently illegal to consume alcohol in public unless in a permitted location. Likewise, DUI is illegal.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 03/18/13 - 04:16 pm
3
0
burninater, I suppose you can

burninater, I suppose you can view it that way but providing a legal place to enjoy your vice is not curbing it, more like corraling it, but the dangers once one leaves the desingated location is of a greater risk to the public than smoking (IMO).

seenitB4
85282
Points
seenitB4 03/18/13 - 04:26 pm
4
0
Smoke is legal...right..

I don't smoke---don't intend to but I can't see restricting ALL smoking in all places....they need a safe place to smoke away from others....you can't wave a magic wand & wish it all away....you know like the name of the school....
I would rather drive next to a smoker than a drunk...any day..I agree with icl at 416pm...

KSL
126266
Points
KSL 03/18/13 - 06:17 pm
1
1
If only smokers in cars would

If only smokers in cars would not litter the streets with butts.

itsanotherday1
41937
Points
itsanotherday1 03/19/13 - 12:00 am
0
0
"I would rather drive next to

"I would rather drive next to a smoker than a drunk...any day"

A drunk, yes; someone who had a couple at dinner? Not so sure. Someone fumbling with a cigarette is just as dangerous; moreso if they've dropped it on themselves.

If there is any chance I have to breath it or even smell it; I want it banned on property I pay tax on. Private property/business owners should be able to regulate it any way they see fit; just give me fair warning at the door that you allow smoking.

TakeAHike
186
Points
TakeAHike 03/28/13 - 09:37 am
0
0
Still behind the times

Hospitals and colleges went smoke free decades ago but GRU is still fighting it? Good grief! It was awful when I was there. Rude smokers would line the walkways by building entrances and ignore the signs forbidding smoking by doorways. I'd hold my breath and have an inhaler in my hand just in case. My undergrad university didn't have this problem.
GRU is being fiscally responsible by going smoke free. It will cut down on the number of employees who smoke and lower the cost of benefits like health insurance.
Now if only we could get Augusta to go smoke free and ban prescribed burns. The smoke from them is 12 times more harmful than cigarette smoke.

TakeAHike
186
Points
TakeAHike 03/28/13 - 09:45 am
0
0
Still behind the times

Hospitals and colleges went smoke free decades ago but GRU is still fighting it? Good grief! It was awful when I was there. Rude smokers would line the walkways by building entrances and ignore the signs forbidding smoking by doorways. I'd hold my breath and have an inhaler in my hand just in case. My undergrad university didn't have this problem.
GRU is being fiscally responsible by going smoke free. It will cut down on the number of employees who smoke and increase overall productivity and lower the cost of benefits like health insurance.
Now if only we could get Augusta to go smoke free and ban prescribed burns. The smoke from them is 12 times more harmful than cigarette smoke.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs