Smoke-free policy would protect community from secondhand smoke
In response to the Aug. 28 staff editorial, “University’s endorsement of county smoking ban further limits student smokers’ options,” a comprehensive smoke-free policy is the simplest and most effective way to protect our University community from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
If the St. Louis County clean-air legislation were to pass, it would not interfere with the legal rights or the ability of students to smoke. Over 64 percent of the U.S. population lives in a place with smoke-free restaurants, and over 300 colleges and universities have smoke-free campuses. Smokers are not the victims. To smoke or not is still a choice afforded to all students. The staff writer misses the point when it comes to clean-air legislation. It is not about the infringement of smokers’ rights, but the protection of the rights of workers and nonsmokers to healthfully inhabit the same space.
Washington University’s administration clearly recognizes that smoking is an addiction, not a fad. They therefore want to create an environment, both on campus and off, that is as innoxious as possible. There is significant evidence that smoke-free ordinances result in decreased smoking in adults, including among college-aged students.
As an out-of-state undergraduate student, I was often happily unaware of the goings-on in the St. Louis and Missouri political scene, as I suspect many students still are. Whether or not students choose to take notice, Wash. U. occupies a weighty role in the St. Louis region. As an employer of 15,000 people, an educator of 13,000 and partner to the largest health care provider in the area, Wash. U.’s support of the clean-air ordinance is both commendable and crucial. Political inertia in St. Louis runs deep. Leadership from the University is important to help St. Louis catch up with the rest of the country. We are all better served when the University works to advance progressive policies that promote the health and well-being of everyone in the University and St. Louis communities.
When voting this November, consider your peers and those in your community who don’t have a choice when it comes to secondhand smoke exposure. Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air.