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Smoking Break for College Students

For many years, the use of tobacco products has been subjected to many issues and criticisms, particularly from nonsmokers. The health risks associated with smoking are among the grounds presented by concerned citizens in every attempt to make public places as smoke-free areas. On the other hand, smokers are urging that they have the right to smoke given the fact that the State does not prohibit anyone to smoke nor make any law that forbids tobacco manufacturer to produce tobacco products. The media are also aiding to the recognition of tobacco products.

They serve as informative yet persuasive channel wherein tobacco advertisements are being promoted along with the warning “Government Warning: Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health. ” Thus, smoking has little prohibition from the law-producer government and the influential media. With these conflicting situations, many are questioning how this world can be a safe place for nonsmoker and a free place for smokers. Recently, debates about tobacco smoking have approached many universities and colleges. As a response, most institutions implemented a policy that bans smoking.

The increasing number of college students who smoke despite the known health risks has alarmed many educators. Thus, they resorted into adapting a nonsmoking policy on their campus. On the other hand, college students, particularly those who smoke, are urging to abolish the smoking ban; for them, such policy eliminates their right to smoke. Most students identify smoking as one of the activities that help them cope with college pressures. They perceive tobacco products as a stress reliever. College smokers are urging that nonsmoking policy should not be implemented for it discriminate their rights and life preferences.

The American Smokers For many people, smoking is a personal choice. Smoking has been a part of American life. As Paul Slovic wrote: “American smokers consume about 500 billion cigarettes every year” (1). It is quite alarming that the youths and young adults have outnumbered the older adults when it comes to smoking tobacco products. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2007 reported that approximately 70. 9 million or 28. 6 percent of the youths aged 12 and older are using tobacco products. Among them, “60. 1 million (24.

2 percent) are cigarette smokers; 13. 3 million (5. 4 percent) smoke cigars; 8. 1 million (3. 2 percent) use smokeless tobacco; and 2 million (8 percent) smoke tobacco in pipes” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMSHA] 41). Meanwhile, young adults aged 18 to 25 were identified as the highest consumers of tobacco products with 41. 8 percent rate. The percentage use of tobacco products among young adults are divided into the following rates: “36. 2 percent smoke cigarettes; 11. 8 percent consume cigars; 5.

3 percent use smokeless tobacco; and 1. 2 percent consume pipe tobacco” (SAMSHA 42). Health Risks Associated with Smoking Although tobacco products are part of the daily life of most Americans, numerous studies indicate that smoking has dangerous effects on the health of both smokers and nonsmokers. Studies conducted during the early 20th century show that smoking and chewing tobacco could cause cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, adverse effects on reproduction, and peptic ulcer for active smokers (Samet 12, 24).

Exposure on tobacco was found to have unfavorable effects on the respiratory health of infants and children such as severe lower respiratory infections, asthma, chronic respiratory symptoms, middle ear disease, and reduction in the rate of lung function. Moreover, adults’ exposure on tobacco smoking is associated with ischemic heart disease, reduced lung function, lung cancer, exacerbation of asthma, and respiratory symptoms (Samet 26). Tobacco Taxes and Youth Smokers

Due to the increasing numbers of youth smokers, the government has imposed a higher tax for tobacco products in order to reduce youth consumption of tobacco. As reported by the USA Today, the new tax for cigars has increased from four cents to $1. 01 per pack. “The increases, which raise the federal cigarette tax from 39 cents a pack to $1. 01, apply to all tobacco products. It comes as more than two dozen states, desperate for revenue in a sunken economy, consider boosting their own tobacco taxes this year” (Koch).

In effect, tobacco companies like Marlboro and R. J. Reynolds need to raise their prices to cover the increase in tax. According to Matthew Mckenna, Office of Smoking and Health director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are expecting 1 million out of 45 million smokers to withdraw from smoking habit due to the tax increase in tobacco products (cited in Koch). Tobacco Free Kids Organization adds that increasing taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products is a “Win, Win, Win Solution” for the government.

The benefits of such act are identified as: (1) winning lives by reducing the numbers of young smokers and lessening the health risks of smoking; (2) winning financially by raising revenues from tobacco products and by reducing the cost on health care; and (3) winning public trust since there are a vast number of supporters for tobacco tax increase, preventing young people from smoking (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “Higher Cigarette Taxes”). Moreover, there are studies that support the claim that the tax increase in tobacco products could reduce the numbers of its young consumers.

As verified in the studies conducted by Christopher Carpenter and Philip Cook for the National Bureau of Economic Research, they found that increasing the government cigarette or tobacco tax could lessen the likelihood of young people to smoke as compared to the regular use of the products during the times when tobacco tax is low and such products are affordable by a few dollars. They also proved that, though the youth can afford to get free cigarettes from their relatives and peers, such behavior or habit is also reduced through the increase in tobacco taxes.

An increase in cigarette taxes may make potential sources more reluctant to provide youths with cigarettes, or lead them to charge more. The prevalence of smoking among friends and family may also be influential through social contagion processes […] so that the increase in taxes influences youth smoking indirectly by influencing the smoking rates in their social environment. Perhaps the best interpretation of our results is that they reflect a reduced form of direct and indirect influences on youth decisions.

Regardless, these results offer new support for the belief that raising cigarette taxes will help discourage youths from smoking. (Carpenter and Cook 24) Public Places Ban Smoking Smoking has become a big ethical dilemma and banning smoking has caused many debates and issues. Some people feel that because smoking is legal, smoking ban should not be implemented in any place because it deprives the constitutional rights of those people who choose to smoke. Other people, especially nonsmokers, support the smoking ban stating that the right to health is more important than the right to smoke.

Meanwhile, results of the study conducted by the Annenberg Tobacco Survey concerning the perceptions of smokers aged 14 to 24 on the health risk of smoking show that most of the respondents overestimate the risk of acquiring lung cancer due to smoking. Only few respondents underestimate the mortality risk and decreasing of life span due to smoking (Jamison and Romer 63). Due to the health risks associated with smoking and being exposed to smokes, public places such as restaurants, hospitals, and college campuses are now implementing a ban on smoking.

Thus, these places are becoming smoke-free. In fact, there are 25 states in the United States which implement smoke-free laws to include bars and restaurants. Among these states are Washington, Vermont, Utah, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Oregon, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Montana, Hawaii, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Jersey, California Nebraska, Massachusetts, Arizon, Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, Maine, Illinois, and Colorado. Other states such as Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, and Florida implement smoke-free laws covering restaurants but exempt bars.

For them, “the only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces and public places” (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “Protecting our Right”). Colleges and universities, as institutions housing young adults aged 18 to 22, often face issues concerning smoking ban and the right of college students to smoke. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2007, the rate of smokers among full time college students is at 25. 6 percent, which is less than the 41. 2 percent rate of non-full time college smokers.

Looking at these figures, one may note that the statistics of college smokers is quite alarming. Thus, educators and other concerned citizens urge for colleges and universities to enforce a no-smoking policy on their campus. Such action is being questioned by students, stating that they have a right to smoke. Although there have been many studies that identify the health risks acquired from smoking (by both smokers and nonsmokers), banning smoking on college campuses is still a complex issue because of the following reasons: discrimination being felt by students who choose to smoke, and unfair enforcement of the non-smoking policy.

The Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights in 2007 has identified 43 colleges in the United States which ban smoking on campus (qtd. in Cruz). This trend is increasing due to initiative of concerned students, thus making most community colleges and commuter schools all smoke-free campuses (Americans for Non-Smokers’ Rights qtd. in Cruz). In 2008, there are more than 140 campuses which impose smoke-free laws all over the campus. An additional 30 campuses are imposing smoke-free law with exceptions, for they have designated areas (particularly outdoor places) where students are allowed to smoke.

In addition to this, there are approximately 500 campuses which enforce smoke-free policies covering residential housing (Jullian). Colleges are banning smoking to prevent tobacco-related health disorders and the risk of death among college students. Health risks associated with smoking include chronic bronchitis, emphysema, heart attacks, lung cancer, and sometimes death. It has been identified that use of tobacco products is the leading cause of death in the U. S. which is responsible for approximately 440,000 deaths per year (Rock et al. 1157-1161).

Although information and statistics about smoking are available, many college students still choose to smoke and overlook the mentioned consequences because they perceive smoking as a stress reliever. Debates and Issues about Smoking Ban in Campuses Smoking has become a public health issue and a major concern in many campuses all over the United States because of its health effects not only among smokers but also to nonsmokers. Secondhand smoking concerns college campuses because it affects everyone who is exposed to the smoke puffed out by the smoker.

“In addition to mainstream smoke that is inhaled by the smoker, burning cigarettes also generate secondhand smoke that is formed from smoke emitted into the environment from the smoldering tip of the cigarette, mixed with smoke exhaled by the smoker” (Pirkle, Bernert, Caudill, Soosnoff, and Pechacek 853). Health risks caused from secondhand smoking include cardiovascular disease, decreased pulmonary function, respiratory infection, asthma and cancer (Pirkle et al. 853). These risks are a concern to public health officials as well as to educators who want to take measures to regulate smoking in public places such as campuses.

Educators and students have different perception regarding the smoking ban. Educators and nonsmoker-college students perceive the smoking ban as a positive action to regulate smoking activities in the campus which in turn prevents the spread of smoke-related health disorders. On the other hand, college smokers view the policy as discriminatory since it prevents them from exercising their right. They claim that smoking gives them a form of relief from school pressures. Thus, prohibiting smoking on campuses disturbs their preferred habits while coping up with school pressures.

Meanwhile, results of the study conducted by Christina Czart, Rosalie Pacula, Frank Chaloupka, and Henry Weschsler show that banning smoking on campuses, though linked with decrease levels of smoking among smokers in college, have no considerable impact on smoking involvement. “Bans on cigarette advertising on campus as well as bans on the sale of cigarettes on campus have no significant effect on the smoking behavior of college student smoking behavior” (Czart et al. 3). Over time, there have been various health policy efforts made aiming to prevent the consumption of tobacco products.

Policies such as anti-tobacco advertising, issuance of health warning, increase in cigarette tax, and limitations on smoking in public areas are implemented to lessen the use of tobacco (Czart et al. 4). From restaurants to bars, restrictions on smoking now approach campuses. However, as Czart and her associates stated, limitations in smoking on college campuses would only be effective in eradicating student-smokers if the implementation of a non-smoking policy is actively being imposed (21-22).

Since smoking is legal in the United States for anyone over 18 years old, banning smoking on campuses becomes an issue of discrimination for those who choose to smoke, as they will more likely need to leave campus in order to smoke a cigarette. This issue is perceived as sensitive because like non-smokers, student-smokers also pay tuition and are only exercising their right to smoke, at least in designated areas. Yet, banning smoking in designated areas has also become an issue wherein student-smokers feel they are being deprived of their right to smoke and to study as well (Blythe).

Conclusion and Recommendation If college campuses are going to consider banning cigarette use, campus officials need to determine a good enforcement policy in order for the ban to become effective. They should also be able to communicate the policy and enforcements regularly to students, faculty, and staff while highlighting the negative effects of smoking and eliminating the smokers’ perception of discrimination attributed to the non-smoking policy. The issue of smoking on college campuses is a sensitive and controversial issue that all sides must be taken into account.

To solve this problem, I believe that imposing a complete smoking ban would be necessary. As Czart et al. concluded on their study “smoking restrictions on college campuses […] only appear to influence smoking behavior when complete bans are imposed” (21-22). Complete smoking ban, when imposed, could directly influence the behaviors of those who smoke. Thus, the feeling of being discriminated would be lessened and be eliminated in the long run. Smoking not only harms those who choose to smoke. Recent studies conducted show evidence supporting the fact that smoking also affects those who are rendering secondhand smoke.

Although smoking is a choice and those who choose to smoke are making that choice, it is not something that we are born with that we cannot do anything about. Moreover, I believe that it is justified to impose a smoking ban since the right to health is more important than the right to smoke. Because of the health risks associated with secondhand smoke and the fact that complete bans are helpful in changing the behavior of smokers, I do believe that colleges should enforce a no smoking policy and provide ways to help those who smoke to understand and cope with this policy.

Works Cited Blythe, Anna. “Colleges expand anti-smoking rules. ” The News Observer. 3 Feb. 2009. 11 May 2009. <http://www. newsobserver. com/news/higher_education/story/1391566. html> Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Special Report: Higher Cigarette Taxes Reduces Smoking, Saves Lives, Saves Money. ” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 19 Feb. 2009. 11 May 2009 <http://www. tobaccofreekids. org/reports/prices/> —. “Smoke-Free Laws: Protecting Our Right to Breath Clean Air. ” 19 Mar. 2009. 11 May 2009. <http://www. tobaccofreekids. org/reports/shs/>.

Carpenter, Christopher and Philip J. Cook. Cigarette Taxes and Youth Smoking: New Evidence from National, State, Local Youth Risks Behavior Surveys. Working Paper 13046, electronic version. Apr. 2007. National Bureau of Economic Research. 8 May 2009. <http://www. nber. org/papers/w13046. pdf>. Cruz, Gina. “Smoking Banned on Campus. ” The Connection. 22 Mar. 2007. 11 May 2009. <http://media. www. crcconnection. com/media/storage/paper572/news/2007/03/22/News/Smoking. Banned. On. Campus-2785109. shtml>. Czart, Christina, Rosalie L. Pacula, Frank J.

Chaloupka, and Henry Wechsler. “The Impact of Prices and Control Policies on Cigarette Smoking among College Students. ” ImpacTeen. Research Paper Series No. 12, electronic version. Mar. 2001. eScholarship Repository, University of California. 11 May 2009. <http://repositories. cdlib. org/context/tc/article/1064/type/pdf/viewcontent/>. Jamieson, Patrick and Daniel Romer. “What Do Young People Think They Know About the Risks of Smoking. ” Smoking: Risk, Perception & Policy. Ed. Paul Slovic. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publication. 2001. 51-63.

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