College snuffs out smoking
Studies classify second hand smoke as a Class A carcinogen (a substance proven to cause cancer). Exposure to second hand smoke is known to cause heart and lung disease, as well as cancer. For every eight people who die from smoking-related cases, one non-smoker will die from second-hand exposure.
In light of these statistics, Barry Mills, President of
Bowdoin College, has banned smoking within college buildings, and placed
restrictions on outdoor smoking. "The time has come for all college
buildings to be smoke-free," he said. The new policy will apply to
all college spaces (including offices, apartments and college houses)
and also extends to 50 feet from all building entrances. President Mills
said that the 50 feet won't be enforced "with a tape measure,"
but believes students will find an appropriate space."
He supplied statistics concerning smoking at Bowdoin. In the IRC's (Internet Relay Chat) Spring 2002 Survey, 6.6% of students reported smoking every day; 5.5% once or twice to a few times per week; another 5.5% smoked "a couple of times" per month; and 18.8% a few times a year. 63.5% reported never having smoked in the previous year. "Nearly 85% of students surveyed reported exposure to second hand smoke." Although the number of Bowdoin students that smoke is small, it has been shown that through the course of college a significant percentage pick up the habit.
Along with the new smoking policy, which Mills hopes will "make people more aware of the dangers of smoking," there also comes a new program to help smokers quit.
Dr. Benson, a very involved figure in the program, will be offering one-on-one counseling, support, and treatment for smokers. Dudley Coe health center will provide prescriptions for nicotine patches and other treatments, free of charge.
While some students have noted that the policy infringes on individual freedoms, most responses have been positive. Mills said that the administration must "balance individual liberty against health and safety." He added, "studies show that the number of students who become addicted to cigarettes during their four years at college can be decreased by 40% just by making college residence halls smoke-free."
Although Mills does not foresee any stricter developments in the future concerning smoking, he hopes that the students and faculty will respect each other enough to abide by the present rules concerning smoking on campus.