Smoking has been banned from the Baylor campus since August 11, 2014. This policy has since been posted around the outskirts of campus, and has also largely been ignored.
Currently, the only enforcement is a loose honesty policy: If someone notices a person who is smoking, they can kindly reminded them that the campus is, in fact, a smoke-free campus. Because doing this is often seen as confrontational, intervention rarely happens.
In addition, there is an unspoken rule that if a smoker is photographed during the act, it can be sent to HR or the Baylor police. Once again, this are rarely acted on.
As a sufferer of asthma and general allergies, the continued use of tobacco products is not only annoying, but also detrimental to my health and the hundreds of students who are similarly diagnosed. According to American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), one in 12 people suffer from asthma. If this statistic is transferred to campus, roughly 1,400 students suffer from asthma. When I encounter secondhand smoke, I am forced to simply hold my breath and keep walking until I reach fresh air. However, escaping tainted air may be harder for students with severe asthma.
Those still smoking on campus range from professors and staff to students. They linger behind parking lots, on street corners and behind certain buildings. Some even place themselves strategically just off of Baylor campus so they are technically not on campus.
Smoking is among America’s top five causes of death, partially because it is easy to pick up and hard to quit. Baylor’s Wellness Office offers support to those who wish to quit smoking, but the program is clearly not enough.
The continuation of this habit among younger generations is a sad and confusing problem. There is no way to ignore the countless anti-smoking campaigns, our required attendance at D.A.R.E. meetings since age 10, or the modern science included in grade-school textbooks that clearly outlined the dangers of smoking for us. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a drastic drop in young adult smokers, but nearly 16 out of 100 people are current cigarette smokers.
Besides general health issues, smoking is also bad for the environment. A better known environmental issue is air pollution from cigarettes and cigarette manufacturers, but the cigarette butts can often be a more immediate problem. Cigarette filters and butts are poisonous to dogs or children if ingested. On Baylor campus, this is a very real danger for dog walkers and parents. The butts also take up to 10 years to biodegrade, and can keep plants and bugs from continuing to grow. This can adversely affect our beautiful campus.
Without the addition of penalties to those who choose to smoke in a smoke-free campus, there is nothing pushing those who smoke to change their habits. Fining those who smoke on campus may not cause them to quit, but it would encourage them to smoke elsewhere.
Also, the job of monitoring smoking on campus should be placed in the hands of Baylor Police, or at least be linked to a system that has the power to administer punishment. Perhaps Baylor Parking Services would like to add this to their watchlist.
As members of Baylor University, it is our duty to help maintain the beautiful campus that we call home. Stay safe, stay healthy, and possibly remain ticket free by not smoking on or near campus.