Alyssa Rosenthal: Clearing the air on campus

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control unveiled a new ad campaign last week showing the horrifying effects of long-term smoking.

Say goodbye to encouraging students to be “above the influence,” and say hello to discouraging them from becoming cancer patients. These are the real effects of smoking staring back at you.

It is time the University follows the CDC’s initiative by wafting a little fresh air onto campus. The University’s response to on-campus smoking needs to be twofold: It must place a ban on smoking near buildings and also create a stronger anti-smoking campaign.

Students were given the chance to vote on whether or not they would favor changing the outdoor smoking policy on campus through the 2012 Colonials for Clean Air Referendum Act during Student Association elections. More than two-thirds of the student body supported a 25-foot smoking barrier around campus buildings, protecting themselves from toxic second-hand smoke. The vote, which only directed the SA to vote on the matter, does at least signal that students want a debate on the smoking ban.

Perhaps it is implausible to tell students to smoke in the middle of the street in order to abide by a ban that forces them to keep a distance of 25 feet from Gelman Library. However, it is plausible to take some small steps toward a cleaner, healthier campus.

The University has the option to place signs in windows to require that students keep away from buildings when smoking. While sidewalks are owned by D.C. and, thus, a University smoking ban cannot control them, the University still reserves the power to prohibit smoking directly in front of campus buildings.

As these steps are being taken toward a more breathable environment, GW should also work toward preventing smoking in general.

The “Be a Quitter!” campaign should remain in place, but a policy for those who can’t or won’t become quitters needs to be set in motion as well.

Part of the problem is that the campaign simply acts as a stepping stone for those who have already chosen to quit. The other half of the problem is that the campaign’s job stops there. The “Be a Quitter!” campaign does not actively promote quitting, and therein lies a major problem.

The University needs to create a section of the program that emphasizes and even dramatizes the effects of smoking. The goal should be to increase the “anti” in the anti-smoking part of the campaign.

A University’s objective is to teach its students, and teaching should not be restricted to the classroom. Real-life choices and the well-being of students are still concerns of all universities. It’s also the University’s role to create a healthy and productive learning environment for students.

Alyssa Rosenthal, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist.

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