Smoke on the water

The University should crack down on smokers in the Washington Avenue bridge tunnel.

Ronald Dixon


I have a five-credit Spanish course that starts at 8 a.m. each day. When I begin my venture from Middlebrook Hall, the harsh wind chill is a cruel inevitability. As most students that must traverse the Mississippi River, the tunnel on the top of the Washington Avenue Bridge is a necessity for getting to class.

Unfortunately, though, the scent of cigarettes welcomes students and staff in the tunnel. Despite the clear “no smoking” signs posted along the walls, students continue to fill their lungs and the closed structure with carcinogen-filled, tarry smoke.

The issue is two-fold. Smoking kills: The activity harms the user through first-hand smoke, others through second-hand smoke and even the recently coined “third-hand smoke,” which stems from the residue left after the second-hand smoke has cleared.

The other is simply respect for others and for University of Minnesota policy. Numerous students smoke at the University, which is their right. Yet, it’s apparent that some of these students disrespect the policies of the University and those around them by clogging the tunnel with the offensive odor of their habit.

A solution to this dilemma could incorporate several of the following suggestions: Impose penalties for smoking in the tunnel, assign University police patrols to systematically patrol the bridge and enforce currently existing regulations that help keep University infrastructure free of cigarette smoke.

As I walk to my early classes, I wish not to be caught within the bind of whether to walk outside and feel the wrath of our Minnesota winters or to walk through the smoking room the tunnel has become. By promoting the aforementioned suggestions, perhaps we will see a change in the smoking rates within the Washington Avenue Bridge.