College campuses across the United States are going smoke-free. Students, professors, and university staff will have to find off-campus smoke spots if they mean to continue their habits. Proponents argue that this trend will mean clean air, money saved, and—hopefully—reduced lung disease rates. Here’s a handy guide to this clean air crusade.
The Story So Far
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, 1,577 US college campuses are now smoke-free (710 of them include a ban on e-cigarettes). This number increases every year. Administrators have heard the voices of nonsmokers, medical professionals, and activists, who have called for a tobacco ban for years.
Smoking is on the decline everywhere in the US. The more we study smoking, the more health hazards we find, and the more people quit. Almost every single part of the human body suffers when you smoke. And the more scientists study second-hand smoke, the more it becomes clear that smoking is not a simple matter of neglecting your own body. Second-hand smoke endangers everyone around users, as well.
The Tobacco Free College Campus Initiative says that the number of smoke-free campuses has more than doubled since just 2012. This goes hand-in-hand with the general decrease in smoking around the country. Students report enjoying this new freedom to breathe. Smoke-free campus initiatives around the country often provide free courses and other tools to help current smokers quit. This ensures that all members of the campus community are invited to participate in the change.
Advocacy groups, student organizations, and college administrators, when they want to go smoke-free, often partner with companies such as CVS to help push these rules through. CVS has an established record of anti-tobacco activism, and offers community health grants to campuses which implement smoke-free rules.
This trend will continue. Smoking rates have dropped dramatically over the last few decades. Tobacco companies have come into a lot of heat for their history of misinformation campaigns, thus losing much of their credibility, public trust, and public sympathy. The fewer smokers, the smaller number of people who will resist smoke-free campaigns (and smoker do often support these moves; after all, most of them are aware of the risks and want to quit). The path is clear, and people are taking it: smoke-free campuses are the future.
What You Can Do
If you are interested in participating in this movement, there’s good news: it’s easy to get involved. Most campuses, if they haven’t already gone smoke-free, have student groups dedicated to the cause. Find one and join it. There, you’ll meet like-minded people, find productive ways to keep busy, and help clear the air for people everywhere. If you’re not interested in direct participation, you could always donate to one of these groups, or sign an online petition (they’re easy to find).