By Jessi Rucker
Smoking bans on college campuses are sweeping the country and most recently on all of CUNY’s 23 campuses, but Mercy has no immediate plans to follow suit.
“We would certainly consider a smoking ban on campus if a petition were made by a number of students,” said Mercy College President, Kimberly Cline.
The trend of making college campuses smoke free has grown immensely over the last five-years. According to the American’s for Nonsmokers’ Rights, there are smoking bans on over 466 campuses.
Smoker Matt Horvitz, a senior in education, understands both sides of the issue of smoking on college campuses.
“Smoking is bad; it kills people,” said Horvitz. “But we’re adults and it’s legal, so to ban us from smoking is an infringement on our rights.”
The smoking bans have been proposed in hopes of displaying a healthy message to young adults while ridding campuses of unattractive cigarette butts and smoky entrances.
While Mercy has not looked into implementing any outdoor smoke free policy, Cline does express a concern for healthfulness at the college.
“We at Mercy are interested in hearing the opinions of students whose health is extremely important to us,” said Cline.
David Ryan, a junior, psychology major, and a smoker, finds the threat of a smoking ban hypocritical.
“Heart disease from fatty foods is just as potent of a killer,” explained Ryan. “Do you see anyone rushing to shut down the grills at the cafeteria?”
Mercy’s campus consists of spread out buildings and parking lots while offering open stretches of lawn to congregate, but most smokers stick close to the entrances of the buildings especially in the winter months. These are the areas that would no longer allow smoking if a ban were to come into effect at Mercy.
“It doesn’t bother me much, but I could see how smoke getting blown right in your face when you walk out the door could be gross,” said Bruce Wasicsko a senior in Health Science and a non-smoker.
Last summer the University of Buffalo banned smoking within 100 feet of school buildings and this past December Columbia University implemented a smoking ban within 20 feet of their campuses’ buildings.
Twenty percent of college students smoke nationwide, according to the American Lung Association. Here at Mercy some smokers empathized with their non-smoking counterparts.
“I understand it’s nasty,” said smoker Chris Lago, a senior major of business. “I would be wiling to go smoke in my car or 25 feet away. And butts are gross, so I get it.”
Even though there are trashcans and designated receptacles for cigarette butts, Lago finds the litter that smoking creates a problem.
“People don’t throw away their butts,” Lago said pointing at the scattered butts at the north entrance to the Main Hall, “so it makes sense that some people are disgusted by it.”
Campuses are not the only places where cigarettes are being stomped out and clean air is being enforced. On Feb. 2 New York City Council voted yes on a ban on smoking in parks, beaches and public plazas. The ban will come into effect by this summer prohibiting smoking everywhere from Coney Island to the pedestrian sanctioned areas of Times Square.
“This summer, New Yorkers who go to parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after the vote on the proposal.
In 2008, Pennsylvania banned smoking on all state-owned college campuses indoors and out. In August of 2010, Arkansas also banned smoking on all public-supported higher education campuses for students, faculty staff and visitors.