Columns / Discourse / Student Senate / January 28, 2010

The Senate Perspective: A breath of fresh air

It is a well known fact that secondhand smoke causes cancer. This alone, is seemingly enough to ask for smoking to be banned from the Gizmo patio. Smokers understand the risks they assume in smoking, but for non-smoking students there is no choice. Nobody chooses to inhale secondhand smoke, and smokers in front of buildings and on the gizmo patio show a lack of regard for the lungs and well being of non-smoking members of the Knox community. As students who have to share the air, and especially as student leaders, we feel it is time for Knox to embrace a non-smoking environment. Smoke free environments are not few and far between. Illinois banned smoking in most public areas at the beginning of 2008, and Carroll University, a peer institution in the ACM, went smoke free at the start of the Academic year.

Everyone knows the dangers of smoking, but it is in recent years that Knox has become a school committed towards environmental sustainability. The recent resolutions passed by Senate included a plea to eradicate the use of bottled water on campus, a composting program, and a commitment to cutting down on paper waste through printing. Changes in recent years include the elimination of Styrofoam carryout containers and trays in the caf, a more comprehensive recycling program, and the emergence of the green fee, which has received numerous proposals and tremendous support. As Knox continues to commit to a more sustainable way of life, the tobacco industry makes little to no progress towards that end. In one hour a cigarette manufacturing machine uses four miles of paper for rolling cigarettes, and one tree is wasted for every three hundred cigarettes produced. With 5.5 trillion cigarettes produced last year, that’s a lot of trees.

In a world strapped for precious resources, tobacco absorbs six times as much potassium as other crops and leaves soil in poor condition for farming. Cigarette butts, a numerous amount of which can be found on the ground of the gizmo patio, take 25 years to decompose.

Given Knox’s stance on sustainability and the harmful effects of cigarette smoke on non-smoking members of the Knox Community, a resolution has been put forth demanding the end to smoking on the Gizmo patio. This resolution relies on the aforementioned reasoning, and is a progressive move on the part of the Knox Senate.

Smokers have rights as well. State law allows them to smoke if they are more than fifteen feet from the entrance to buildings. This resolution is in the spirit of the state law, and protects the rights of the non-smokers on Knox’s campus. It allows a popular, communal space to be inhabited without the disruption, annoyance, and health hazards that smoking causes. With that in mind, we fully support the resolution, and endeavor to make this campus a smoke free zone.

Liesl Pereira

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