Possible Mandate Has Columnists Blowingsmoke

by Staff

Designated smoking areas might soon invadeSDSU. Long overdue addition or a waste of time? Two columnists debatethe issue.

Forty thousand people. Sounds like a lot, right? If 40,000 people dropped off the face of the earth, we’d notice. Funny — that’s how many people died last year due to complications of second-hand smoke inhalation, according to the American Lung Association. And now, San Diego State University is taking notice. Campus leaders are considering a proposal from the Environment and Safety Committee of the University to designate smoking areas around campus. That’s right, the majority of this university would suddenly be smoke free, and you know what — it’s about damn time. That’s right, you read that correctly. Get your damn cigarettes out of my face before I put them out for you. Stop blowing your putrid smoke in my direction because you know what — one day I’m going to snap, and it’s not going to be pretty. Smoking is legal. Great. Smokers everywhere deserve a round of applause for taking up something that kills 40,000 people a year. Oh, but I can almost hear your thoughts right now. I’m a considerate smoker. Please. You have to be exposed to that hour after hour, day after day before it does anything. If they don’t like it, then they should get out of my way. I’ll address these thoughts one by one. First of all, there is no such thing as a considerate smoker. You may try. You may walk away from big crowds of people when you are smoking. You may make the effort to blow smoke away from the faces of your non-smoking friends. But you know what? It’s not good enough. You’re trying, but it isn’t working. Clean air laws. Ever heard of them? They are created by activists who have taken note of the ghastly air pollution clouding cities across the world. Guess what makes up smog — well, other than the nasty crap that pours out of cars, 18 wheelers, textile factories and Rush Limbaugh’s mouth? Smoke. The very stuff that comes out of your cigarettes. In enclosed shopping malls, the smoke lingers. It sticks around crowded passageways. I’m breathing your smoke, and frankly, I’m sick of it. And in regards to the idea that someone has to be exposed to cigarette smoke for long periods of time before it causes any damage — my, how naive you are. Do you know what second-hand smoke exposure can do to kids under 18 months of age? Pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections — the list goes on. According to the ALA, this is just from smoking around them. Smoking in the same proximity as them — you know, like in shopping malls, hallways and yes, you guessed it, even at SDSU. And do I even want to tackle the third issue? I’m already running the risk of finding my car in a complete and total shambles when I try to leave campus this afternoon. Ah what the heck, I’ve never been one to shut my mouth when the time is right. It is not my responsibility to get out of your way while you are smoking. You are making the choice to poison your lungs. You are not making the choice to poison my lungs. That is my decision, and mine alone, to make. Otherwise, in a weird round-about way, it’s called murder. Hey, arsenic takes a long time before it kills someone. What’s the real difference here? So take your Camel Lights, your Marlboro’s, your PalMal’s, your cloves, your cigars — anything you can light up — and shove ’em. I know this is going to piss off a whole bunch of nicotine addicts. But if it means I have a slightly better chance of making it to 70 without emphysema, lung cancer or having a second-hand smoke caused heart attack, so be it. Smokers, stay out of my path today. I’m a man with a mission, and should your cigarette find itself within 15 feet of my face, well — don’t say I didn’t warn you. –Ross von Metzke is opinion editor of The Daily Aztec and a journalism senior. Send e-mail to daletter2000@hotmail.com –This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Before we get this thing going, let’s get one thing straight up front. I hate cigarettes. I hate the way they are exploited. I hate that they are addictive. I hate when people smoke them around me — my hair and clothes smell like an ashtray for the rest of the night. In short, I think it’s a nasty unattractive habit. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but San Diego State University wants to create designated areas on campus for smoking. Go ahead all you non-smokers — jump up and down in victory. “Yes! We don’t have to breathe in the toxins of second-hand smoke!” That was my initial reaction too, until I started thinking a little harder. Do I really want a campus of angry, irritated smokers walking around pissed at the world all day? It sure wouldn’t make my day any easier, dealing with my irritated friends as they bitch and moan about having to walk halfway across campus to take a quick smoke break. It would just be added drama to my day, and I don’t need it. And exactly how would they enforce this new rule on campus? They can’t hand out smoking violations to everyone they see. What are they going to do, send around some of Reed Albergotti’s favorite bike cops on smoker patrol? I can just see it now. Bike cops holding megaphones, telling people to extinguish their cigarette or else. The fact of the matter is people are going to smoke regardless. If they are outside on public property and not deliberately blowing smoke in your face, there is not much more you can say about it. There is nothing in the Constitution that says you can not smoke. It is your right to smoke, just as it is my right to listen to Pearl Jam. What’s next, telling people they can only smoke in an airtight room, stowed away in the far reaching corners of their basement? Yeah, like I see that happening. I can understand them restricting smoking within a certain distance from the buildings on campus. After all, what non-smoker wants to walk through a cloud of toxin on their way to class? But do the smokers strolling through Aztec Center really bother anyone? In an open space like that, I can hardly see it creating enough smoke to really be bothersome. I have plenty of considerate smoker friends who blow their smoke in the opposite direction of me, and who stay away from mass groups of people while they are smoking. There is such a thing as a considerate smoker. Taking away this right from them will only tick them off and make them want to blow their smoke in your face. And if most smokers are like any of my friends who smoke, they will walk around campus smoking anyway. If you ask them to put it out, they will look at you and say, “what are you going to do about
it?” As a non-smoker, I would love to never have smoking around me. I would love it if no one smoked at all, but let’s be realistic. It’s never going to happen. You can only go so far with the limitations you put on a person. Forcing people to smoke in restricted areas is not going to help the situation. It will only make them want to smoke more. Then the argument simply leans toward accommodating non-smokers. So what are we going to do to accommodate the smokers? Are they going to have baskets of nicotine patches in every building? I highly doubt it. As long as people understand they shouldn’t violate my lungs with their toxins and are considerate when smoking around me, I am not going to tell them that they can’t smoke outside. It’s their right to smoke, end of story. –Jackie Fleishon is an English junior. Send e-mail to daletter2000@hotmail.com –This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.