Jennifer Scheller

I am writing to you in regards to my concerns with the tobacco smoking on campus and trying to encourage PSU to come up with designated smoking areas. Currently, as a student at PSU I am especially concerned when I come out of any of the major buildings on campus and I am forced to breathe in the secondhand smoke of those who are smoking. As part of my own personal lifestyle I try to avoid smoky areas, but this is especially difficult when it’s right outside the front door I use everyday to get to class.

Americans are beginning to recognize how hazardous smoking can be to everybody else’s health due to secondhand smoke. According to the American Lung Association tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, including 200 known poisons. Sixty-three of those poisons are proven to cause cancer. Every time someone smokes, poisons such as benzene, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide are released into the air, which means that not only is the smoker inhaling them, but so is everyone else around him. Many studies now show that this secondhand smoke can have harmful effects on nonsmokers and even cause them to develop diseases such as lung cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is the third largest cause of lung cancer, after direct smoking and occupational exposure to other hazardous substances. Up to one-quarter of lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers are related to secondhand smoke. Also smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are common triggers of asthma episodes.

The EPA reports that secondhand smoke is classified as a Group A Carcinogen – a substance known to cause cancer in humans. There is no safe level of exposure for Group A toxins. The EPA report was a legal and political bombshell, opening up the possibility of lawsuits against the tobacco industry by innocent nonsmokers and providing the impetus for significant local government action against smoking in public places and workplaces.

Clearly, in our society, causing other people to be exposed to secondhand smoke is becoming less and less acceptable. Several students and members of the student government already agree and have begun to take action in speaking out to and encouraging others to do the same. We have rights as students to speak up for ourselves and ask smokers to recognize how disrespectful smoking is in front of the doorways at PSU. I do hope to see PSU take action and try and solve this conflict by designating certain areas for smoking and consider building a shelter for smokers. Some kind of shelter would encourage those who are smoking on campus to use a different area, besides by the front doors to smoke. Several local businesses have already done this and it has been rather successful.

Mt. Hood Community College has taken the next step and set up signs posting certain areas not designated for smoking and others signs that are designated for smoking. This is a general policy at Mt. Hood Community College and seems to work rather well for the staff and students who are on campus everyday. This also makes their environment a lot more pleasant and inviting to be in. I do hope other students on campus who agree with my concerns will speak out and encourage others to do the same.

Jennifer Scheller is an English major at Portland State