Smoking policies becoming more stringent on college campuses

Melanie Ruvalcaba (right), a graduate student in the public
health program at Fresno State, participated in a campuswide
movement last semester to ban smoking at the school. Ruvalcaba
and several other students collected signatures to show support
for the smoking-ban resolution.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Numerous controversies have surrounded smoking policies on the Fresno State campus.  A group known as Project IMPACT has attempted to make the Fresno State campus smoke-free in the past, as well as attempting to pass legislation to require retailers obtain licensure for tobacco products, similar to the licensing requirements to sell alcohol.

At the end of last semester, a smoke-free campus policy was presented and accepted by Associated Students, Inc.

There are currently no new postings dealing with the policy on the ASI website, but an effort was made to repeal the decision shortly after it was made, according to Collegian news feeds from Selena Farnesi.  Whether or not the policy will be enforced this semester remains to be seen.

Current smoking policies are not enforced on the Fresno State campus.  Although there are designated smoking areas, many individuals smoke outside of these areas and cigarette smoke can enter the buildings.

Despite the negative health consequences of tobacco use, such as cancer and heart disease, 46.6 million adults in the United States smoke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 21.8 percent of adults aged 18 to 24 years old are smokers.  There is a direct correlation between education level and smoking prevalence.

The more highly educated individuals are, the less likely they are to smoke.  Income is also linked to smoking status.  Those with higher annual incomes tend to be non-smokers, according to the CDC.

Tobacco use is the single most-preventable cause of death, disease and disability in the United States.  A total of 443,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking or prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke, CDC reports.  An additional 8.6 million people must cope with a serious or deadly illness caused by smoking.

A Harvard College study on college-age tobacco use surveyed 119 four-year colleges found that 45.7 percent of respondents had used tobacco products in the past year and 32.9 percent of college students were current tobacco users.

Many college campuses have gone smoke-free; U.C. President Mark Yudof requested on Jan. 11 that the entire University of California system become smoke-free over the period of the next two years.

A bill was brought to lawmakers in Carson City, Nev. that would have “banned smoking on all university and community college campuses in Nevada,” which ultimately did not pass.  Officials in support of the bill testified there were 466 smoke-free university campuses in the United States.  The Assembly Judiciary committee took no action.

Some college campuses have gone as far as to ban smoking in automobiles.  The University of Florida has replaced many of its tobacco restrictions with outright bans.  About 75 percent of those who responded to a survey about the new policy supported it, according to Scott Travis of the McClatchy-Tribune.

Another popular fad developing among the college-age population in the United States is hookah.  It is a form of sweet, often flavored tobacco that is smoked through a water pipe.

Many young people are under the misconception that hookah smoke is less dangerous than cigarette smoke, but “smoke from a hookah contains many of the same harmful and carcinogenic components as cigarette smoke,” the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR) website reports.

This is a potential health threat to many college students as hookah bars are targeting young people and hookah can serve as a “gateway” to tobacco products for those who otherwise do not smoke.  Many of these hookah bars allow smoking indoors because they license themselves as retail tobacco shops.

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