The Great Smoking Debate
Should LSC be smoke-free?
One current topic Lyndon State College students are buzzing about is whether or not LSC should become a smoke-free campus.
Erin Rossetti, the director of Residential Life and a member of the Health and Safety Committee, said in an email that the committee was exploring the idea.
"As we move forward in researching the idea, we will be looking for student input in various ways as well as feedback from faculty and staff. The discussion is still in its infancy, but we plan to continue talking about pros and cons throughout the year."
Some students are excited at the prospect.
"Ideally, as a non-smoker, I'd want the campus to be smoke-free," said Emilie Hillman, a junior Atmospheric Science major, "but it's not fair to those who do smoke. Sometimes when people smoke, they smoke in areas where a lot of non-smokers are who don't want to have to smell it."
Hillman finds herself bothered by this frequently.
"I've noticed that for Rita Bole, people smoke on the sidewalk, which isn't extremely close to the building, but its close enough. I just don't like the smoke, or the smell of the smoke, coming in my window," Hillman said.
Hillman suggests moving designated smoking areas farther away from campus buildings or public areas.
"Why should I have to be put in a situation where I have to be in contact with the second-hand smoke?" she asked.
Health risks are a concern for non-smokers. According to a Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital brochure on smoking, over 300,000 Americans die every year from second-hand smoke, and 80-140 of related deaths occur yearly in Vermont.
Paula Chamberlin, the Brown House receptionist, said it is common to see questions regarding tobacco usage on health forms.
"If students come in and are sick, one of the questions they are asked by the nurses is 'do you smoke?' and if the answer is yes, then they are advised to quit," Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin used to smoke, but quit 18 years ago. She said that she would not be against a smoke-free campus, but knows from experience that smokers would still find a way to smoke as needed.
Chamberlin said she noticed that LSC smokers seem to know where the acceptable smoking areas on campus are.
Non-smokers like Hillman believe the campus would look better if cigarette butts did not litter the ground.
"If campus was smoke-free, I think it would be a little bit cleaner," Hillman says.
Although in favor of having a smoke-free campus, Hillman considers a smokers point of view.
"A lot of people would be angry," she says, "I think those who do smoke would be upset about it because they wouldn't be allowed to do it anymore, and where are they going to go if they can't smoke here?"
Curt Olson, also a non-smoking junior, agrees.
"It'd be a good idea to go smoke-free," Olson said, "but a problem with going smoke-free is the people who can't get off campus and smoke, like people who don't have cars, they're sort of out of luck. If the campus did go smoke-free, I think people will smoke anyway. They're going to do it in the buildings or they're going to find other places to do it which is going to cause more problems."
From some smokers' perspectives, the response to a smoke-free campus was not favorable. Four guys and two girls at the smoking gazebo, more commonly known as the "butt-hut," agreed that a smoke-free campus would negatively impact LSC. They agreed that they "would all be pissed off." One student added that if "smoke-free" became a regulation, he would probably ignore it.
One student, Will Cooper, a transfer sophomore MBI major who smokes, agrees.
"We should be able to smoke wherever and whenever we want," he said. When asked what he would do about a smoke-free campus, he said he would just smoke in his car.
But having a smoke-free campus wouldn't necessarily mean that smokers would smoke less.
"I would find a way to smoke as much," Cooper said.
Moving the current designated smoking areas farther away is an option, but that doesn't sit well with Cooper. "I'd be pretty angry. I wouldn't want to walk that far," he said.
Cooper thinks smokers would likely fight a smoke-free campus.
"It would make non-smokers happy, but there would probably be a rebuttal from us, and I think we would win," Cooper said.
But Cooper mentioned that even if the campus went smoke-free he would still want to be at LSC.
"It wouldn't change my wanting to be here," he said.
Hillman says the "butt-hut" is too close because to get to and from Stonehenge and the parking lot, you have to pass by it.
"I think they should move the "butt-hut" farther away," Olson said, "If you're gonna smoke in the parking lot, do it on the other side or in the back of the parking lot."
George Hacking, the director of public safety, said there was always discussion about where the gazebo or "butt-hut" should be.
"If it was on the other side of the parking lot, where would we put it so that it doesn't take up parking spaces? And it needs to be in a well lit area," Hacking said, "but if it's not kept up, or if it's not safe any longer for people to be there, then we'll take it away."
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