Smoking-related diseases remain the world’s most preventable cause of death.
Approximately 54,000 people die each year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke, according to The American Cancer Society.
“I cover my nose whenever I walk through smokers,” said Cameron Frowick, Tyler Junior College sophomore.
Secondhand smoke is composed of side stream smoke from the burning cigarette and released smoke, smoke blown out of the smoker’s mouth.
A lot of secondhand smoke is inhaled involuntary and is an inconvenience.
No amount of secondhand smoke is risk free. Even small amounts of exposure can prove harmful, according to the Surgeon General.
Many of the same chemicals present in smoke inhaled by smokers are contained in secondhand smoke. Side stream smoke is generated at lower levels and under different conditions and it contains higher concentrations of many of the toxins found in cigarette smoke. It’s estimated by The National Toxicology Program at least 250 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to cause cancer.
As a result, some colleges are choosing to become smoke-free campuses. However, going smoke free is not an easy process.
“There are several people that would have to see the proposal starting with the student senate, then student affairs and so on,” said Vincent Nguyen, director of Student Life and Involvement at TJC.
According to Nguyen, student senate, made up of 10-12 students, would research how being smoke free effects other colleges and also survey TJC students.
“Students would ultimately decide if TJC became smoke free,” he said.
TJC is already in compliance with the city’s ordinance that doesn’t allow smoking inside public facilities, including restaurants. Tyler is doing more to ensure smoke free environments.
“The city recently changed ordinances to increase space between smoke and buildings,” said Fred Peters, director of marketing at TJC.
Smokers have to be at least 50 feet away from buildings to smoke.
Some students suggest smokers should be isolated from non- smokers.
“They should have a designated area somewhere off to the side,” said Frowick.
The process of making TJC smoke free could be a fairly long process.
“The process would take maybe a year. We would want to make sure allthe right information has been gathered from the right people,” said Ngyuen.
The University of Texas at Arlington is probably going to be the first smoke-free four-year university in Texas. UTA is already in compliance with their city’s smoke-free ordinance. Currently, anyone caught smoking within 50 feet of any building on campus will receive a fine of $15 for the first offense and $25 if caught a second time.
Texas has at least 15 college campuses that are 100 percent smoke free according to American Non-smokers Rights Foundation. Eastfield Community College in Dallas is a smoke-free campus. Students and faculty are only allowed to smoke in cars in the parking lot, according to Sharon Cook, director of College Communications and Community Relations, Eastfield College.
San Antonio College, Alamo Community College District, and Tarrant County College are some of the other colleges than have taken a stand against secondhand smoke.