Smokers on campus minding their own business


One time, as I stood outside the K-State Student Union, I was talking to a smoker in the designated smoking area when a bunch of elementary school-aged kids walked over to the smoking area. I don’t know why they were there, but all of the smokers immediately left the area. The smoker I was talking to said she just felt bad smoking around kids.

The places smokers can smoke are limited on campus. One can’t smoke near entrances or in designated nonsmoking areas, such as the one located by the Union. But I do not hear smokers complaining about these limitations.

Some nonsmokers complain about people smoking outside and I ask them this: Where would you have them smoke, exactly?

Most likely the person will say, “Well, they shouldn’t smoke at all.” This is roughly the equivalent of me saying that since fatty foods can cause negative effects on your health, you should not eat them in my sight simply because I disapprove of a health choice you’re making.

Cigars and cigarettes are enjoyable to many people, including myself, and the negative effects of secondhand smoke are significantly reduced by smoking outside. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency actually advises smokers to go outside, saying, “Until you can quit, choose to smoke outside.”

If you are being bothered by smoke outside and you politely tell the smoker that it’s bothering you, the smoker will be happy to move. I have never once seen someone respond rudely to such a request. For the record, making a fake, obnoxious cough does not count as asking politely. This I actually have seen.

According to a Sept. 2, 2009, article in the Army Times, many members of our military smoke. In fact, about one third of the U.S. military smoked in 2005, versus one fifth of civilians, and the rates are even higher for those returning from deployment to combat zones. K-State was just deemed one of the most military-friendly colleges in the United States and we have a close relationship with Fort Riley and the U.S. Army. One would think that people who have served our country in war zones across the country would deserve a little more courtesy when they choose to light up here at home.

Next time you find yourself annoyed with a smoker here on campus, you might consider asking yourself if they’re really doing anything wrong and if it’s really so bad that they’re trying to relax outside. Pushing for any further restrictions is what’s actually unreasonable.