The smoking war burns on campus


Most MWSU students agree that designated smoking areas are necessary, but attitudes are still harsh betweem some smokers and non-smokers
A smoker walking from one end of the Missouri Western campus to the other, pleasurably puffing on a cigarette as they amble along, passes through the breezeway, which has clear postings: “No Smoking” painted in bright yellow letters on concrete columns holding up the ceiling over the sidewalk. The gathered crowd of students passing between buildings or standing outdoors and socializing with peers about who is dating whom or where the best party will be this weekend, stifle noticeably as the meandering Marlboro smoker passes through. No one looks directly at him; no one says anything about his disregard of the posted rules, although one or two people may cough in objection. Instead the smoker passes through as if they were one the “untouchables” of ancient Hindu society, a lower being who does not even deign acknowledgement by a more enlightened people higher up the Karmic totem pole.

Most students may feel that smoking is a non-issue on campus, but if the campus is a microcosm of the greater society then clearly there is an issue. With cities as close as Lawrence and Kansas City adopting citywide bans of smoking in restaurants and bars, the question must be asked, “How far behind is St. Joseph?”

It was last spring that St. Joe adopted its own smoke-free policy in restaurants without a fully enclosed separate room. No longer are nonsmokers bothered by brackish smoke curling through the air over a flimsy partition between booths. In Boulder, Colo., there is no smoking at all unless you are sequestered within your own home. Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – no smoking unless in a free standing building.

America clearly sees the act of smoking as an issue, so by default, the students of Missouri
Western do as well. Which raises the question about how smoking on campus should be handled.

“I have noticed a trend in America pushing towards non-smoking, and it doesn’t bother me because I don’t smoke in my house or around my children,” accounting major and smoker Kelly Hanway said. “But if they made campus non-smoking, that would bother me. This is my place to smoke.”

Western student Erin Ward, who is a smoker, agrees that the presence of children should be a guiding factor.

“I think society wants everyone to quit smoking,” Ward said. “I don’t think it is fair. It is supposed to be our decision. I think it is fair in public places to say no smoking, like at amusement parks or other places where there are children, but we are not [there]. We are in college.”

Non-smoker Western student Chris John thinks the problem is more of aesthetic issue.

“It bothers me that there are ashtrays everywhere, and people still throw their butts on the ground,” John said. “It just looks bad.”

Missouri Western V.I.P. Octavia Beard, who is a non-smoker, said she wished the campus had more clearly designated areas for smoking. The bottom line is that smokers are not going away anytime soon, and they and their non-smoker counterparts on campus will have to find a way to respect each other’s feelings on the issue for now.

“It is one of those subjects you have to weigh out,” non-traditional student and non-smoker Jerry McClain said. “You balance an individual’s right to make a choice for them self with health. I think a person has a right to harm their own body, but people should know that smoking is harmful. As long as it is outside a building, I don’t mind.”

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