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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Student Opposed to Anti-Smoking

Author: [no author name found]

I've never been bothered by smoking at Middlebury College, and I've been here since 1999. My friends haven't had any problems with it either. But some students on campus are currently passing around a petition that will become a bill for the Student Government Association that would severely affect smokers on campus.
I'm not a smoker myself, and never have been. But I was still appalled when I heard about the campaign, supported by the American Cancer Society, for a "Smoke-Free Middlebury." It hopes to pass a bill dictating that smokers should not be allowed to smoke any closer than 25 feet away from the entrance of any campus building.
There would also be no smoking allowed inside, even in student's own rooms. The group doesn't know how this would be enforced yet, except to say that if you were caught smoking indoors you would get a $25 ticket.
I would understand the need for such rules if I often saw students smoking outside my dorm or if students smoked in the dining halls or in McCullough regularly. But I rarely see anyone on the Middlebury campus smoking at all, indoors or outside. I know only three or four smokers.
Statistics from the Office of Health and Wellness Education state that on a daily basis, only 7 percent of Middlebury students say they are exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke, and that 93 percent of students do not use tobacco products every day.
I have never heard of a major conflict over smoking in dorms, either. But let's say for the sake of argument that someone was smoking on your hall and it was really bothering you. Maybe you have asthma, and so it even affects your health. Middlebury already has a system of sub-free dorms in place, which gives students the opportunity to live in a smoke-free environment.
But if someone is smoking around you outdoors and it is bothering you for any reason, why not simply ask the person to not do so, or move away yourself? Middlebury College is, undeniably, a community. Such simple communication and mutual respect is at the base of what allows a community to exist. I believe we are fully capable of doing so without sending people out in snowstorms to stand 25 feet away from the front door so that they can have a cigarette. If smoking disagreements do pose such a problem for the residential life staff and the current sub-free halls are not sufficient, why not have one smoke-free dorm in each commons?
Yes, cigarettes are very bad for one's health. Theoretically, no one should smoke. But realistically, people do. And moreover they are completely free to do so. The small community of smokers here at our school should not be treated like this. Smokers and non-smokers simply have to communicate in order to live peacefully together. And it seems to me like they have been doing so pretty well here at Middlebury in the past 200 years of its existence. Aren't there any more pressing issues on the College's collective mind?

Michele Connors is a Senior from Massachusetts