The poet Bryan Bale wrote of being enclosed “within a swirl of moonlit mist,” an experience that many students wading through the dense smoke cloud outside the library at night can understand. There are several areas on campus where some students exhale smoke while others hold their breath. Students should be able to smoke on campus, but non-smokers shouldn’t have to pay the price. At the end of the day, it comes down to a simple but important idea: We’ll respect your habits if you respect our space.
According to the Web site of the Office of Student Affairs, Georgetown’s official smoking policy is to “achieve an environment as close to smoke-free as practically possible.” It also states that outdoor smokers cannot block entrances, transmit smoke into buildings or cause others to be exposed to smoke. However, Georgetown’s set-up is antithetical to these ideas.
The student affairs policy states that “faculty, staff and students are responsible for enforcing the policy with visitors and are encouraged to direct other[s] to designated smoking areas.” But how many people are even aware that smoking is only permitted 25 feet from building entries and windows?
Apparently no one told the facilities staff when they were installing the ashtrays. They have placed them exactly where students aren’t supposed to smoke.
With the ashtrays outside the ICC only steps outside the front door, why would smokers heed the 25-foot rule? The “butt stop” at Reiss is immediately outside of the doors, which falsely suggests an appropriate smoking area.
The American Lung Association released a report last week encouraging colleges to ban smoking on campus, a recommendation that is too extreme. However, the health risks of cigarette smoke must be kept in mind. According to the ALA, secondhand smoke “lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished and can cause or exacerbate a wide range of adverse health effects, including cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.” And the current Surgeon General’s report found that scientific evidence shows there is “no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” Keeping such facts in mind, Georgetown should be more responsible in enforcing the existing rules to keep smoke out of areas that are being constantly traversed.