An appeal for an outdoor smoking ban

Secondhand smoke kills âÄî we know that. So why hasnâÄôt the University of Minnesota taken more progressive steps to protect its faculty, staff and students who have made the intentional choice not to smoke? A recent Stanford study found that âÄúa person sitting or standing next to a smoker outdoors can breathe in wisps of smoke that are many times more concentrated than normal background air pollution levels.âÄù While critics of a smoke-free campus often claim that supporters are simply unrightfully complaining, we are protecting our right not to be harmed by their decision. Like the proposed University policy, the Minnesota smoking ban initially attracted opposition. However, only a year after its implementation, the Freedom to Breathe Act is now supported by 77 percent of Minnesotans, the smoking rate has fallen to its lowest-ever point and positive health effects have been shown already, as evidenced by a University of Minnesota School of Public Health study last spring. Unlike the Duluth campus, the University shouldnâÄôt just declare a smoking ban and expect everyone to follow. It should invest in an education campaign to inform students, faculty and staff of the change. It should also improve and make more accessible smoking cessation programs for faculty, staff and students who want to quit smoking, free of charge. There are already 160 colleges and universities in our nation that have adopted smoke-free campuses with no limitations. If the University decides to join these schools, we will be the first university from the Big Ten and the largest school in the nation to implement a smoke-free policy. In the attempt to become a top-three research institution, the University should practice what it preaches and protect the health and rights of all individuals to breathe smoke-free air. Please send comments to [email protected].