By: Bolaji Oke-Samuel (email@example.com), section editor for student voices
Smoking is as addictive as heroine and it is difficult for non-smokers (i.e. those who have never experienced the hold of nicotine) to grasp this issue. It’s safe to say that I have a major problem with this.
Last week Tuesday I was waiting in the train station to catch the next train when an adult male came up to me looking somewhat anxious and uncomfortable. He asked me, “do you have a cigarette,” while frantically searching and patting down his pockets. And my response: “No, I don’t smoke,” in a somewhat confident and proud of myself manner. However, when I observed his face and I saw how uncomfortable he was, I added quickly out of pity, “I am sorry.”
My apology here is something to be pondered upon since I have no tolerance for smoking. I mean I am a walking “say no to smoking” sign board and I assert this message strongly when I walk past smoke on the UIC Campus and anywhere else by shielding my nose from the smoke and wearing that disapproving narrowed eye look. However, going back to my hasty apology, I felt the need to apologize to that man because I felt pity for him as you would an asthmatic patient who is in desperate need of an inhaler.
Let me now delight you with the news that the UIC Campus has decided to go tobacco free beginning this summer, effective the 1st of July 2013. I was excited at this news as a non-smoker but all I needed was a reminder of that man’s discomfort to remind me that smoking is an issue that people struggle with.
The UIC Campus has declared that there will be services and awareness campaigns on Campus to help smokers deal with this change and especially to help them quit smoking. The advice that has always accompanied smoking is this, “don’t start it” because it is difficult to quit however, there are success stories of those who have been able to free themselves from the hold of Nicotine and tobacco products. The UIC Campus has decided to prohibit the use of tobacco based on the following justification made by the vice chancellor for administrative services, Mark Donovan. He said in the UIC News that, “The consensus was that we should move on this, especially because of the fact that we’re a medical campus.”
Another statement of justification is that “UIC is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy, productive environment for all its students, faculty, staff, patients and visitors.” This statement was made by Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and Vice chancellor Donovan.
The UIC News report on the prohibition of Tobacco also features the opinions of two students, a smoker and a non-smoker. The smoker expressed his concerns on how the University will be able to enforce this rule. The response to that from the authority shows how far they wish to go to implement this new policy. Consequences for violating the no tobacco rule are discipline of students and progressive discipline of employees such as termination. On the other hand, the featured non-smoking student expresses her delight at not having to inhale a cloud of smoke on her way to class.
To tell you the truth, I have always regarded the act of smoking as a selfish act because I see it that smokers are not only endangering their own lives but that of those around them. Which leads us to the question: why do people smoke? The big factor present in smokers is that of peer pressure, I remember having a discussion with an occasional smoker who declared that she started smoking because her friends did it and if we were to conduct a survey on why people smoke we will discover that this is not far from the truth.
As much as I sympathize with those smokers who are having their smoking and tobacco privileges rescinded on Campus I cannot help but be joyful that I do not have to take a different route to avoid a cloud of smoke on Campus. However, the only downside that I can see to this rule at this moment is the lack of intellectual discussions that smokers engage in while clouding the entrances of different buildings on campus. (Smoker’s Humor)
P.S. The new “no tobacco” policy is available here: http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/relations/PolicyDocs/HRAP/TobaccoFreeCampusPolicy.pdf