Impact of secondhand smoke on campus

According to the Keene State College Student Handbook, the college “supports the health goals of Healthy People 2020 to reduce tobacco use and initiation among youth and adults, and to positively influence our community by helping people to remain or become tobacco/smoke free.”

The Healthy People 2020 goals are found on healthypeople.gov and the four overarching goals include: “[attaining] high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death; [achieving] health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups; [creating] social and physical environments that promote good health for all; and [promoting] quality of life, healthy development and healthy behaviors across all life stages.”

Luke Stergiou / Senior Photographer

Luke Stergiou / Senior Photographer

To maintain those health goals, KSC established a policy for students, faculty, staff and visitors to follow to protect the health of others. The policy states that it is “the policy of Keene State College to restrict smoking, vaping and all other tobacco use, inside all buildings owned and occupied or leased and occupied by KSC including the College Camp on Wilson Pond, at special events and conferences, in KSC vehicles and in other outdoor campus spaces as described in Section V:2.”

Section V:1 also states that the use of tobacco products is “prohibited within twenty five (25) feet of building entrances, outside stairways to buildings, outdoor passageways to entrances and stairways and near air intake units. Where the needs of smokers and non-smokers conflict, smoke-free air shall have priority.”

Assistant Director of Campus Safety Leonard Crossman is one who enforces the policy when it is needed on campus. Crossman said that he does see students and other people violate the policy, but most times he just reminds them of the policy and “[have] them move along,” though he said that campus safety can enforce disciplinary action if needed.

Regarding the issue of secondhand smoke on campus, Crossman said, “I think it’s a problem dependent on someone’s sensitivity. You or I might not have an issue, but someone with a health issue may have a problem.” He also brought to attention the fact that young children and elderly people on campus may also be affected by secondhand smoke.

Crossman is also a D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) instructor. “My opinion is that I would like to see no one smoking ever. I think the college has good policies in place and they are really trying to make this a drug-free campus,” Crossman said.

KSC biology Professor Douglas Smith is another faculty member on campus who said that he supports the smoking policies in the KSC student handbook. Smith said he began teaching at KSC in 2000, teaching summer biology classes and working full-time as an adjunct until the summer of 2002. He was hired back in August of 2003 and has been working at KSC ever since. Though he originally was fascinated with animals, he said that “ending up a human anatomy teacher [was] a little ironic, but [he] came to appreciate the human as an animal as well.”

In regards to secondhand smoke on campus, Smith said, “I cannot speak for the entire science department, or even the biology department, but I am comfortable in the assumption that a majority of faculty and staff would encourage making the choice not to smoke for health reasons, and support the studies that show second-hand smoke is detrimental to non-smokers.”

He said that occasionally he encounters secondhand smoke when he leaves through the entrance facing the Media Arts Center and sometimes by the entrance facing the science center parking lot, but he rarely observes students violating the school policy.

KSC junior and elementary education and sociology major Brittany Goyette is one student who feels the effects of secondhand smoke on campus. Goyette said she has had issues with secondhand smoke since she was a child. “My body has always been super sensitive to cigarette smoke. I have an inhaler prescribed to me for when I’m around it.”

Goyette also commented on dealing with secondhand smoke on campus. “I have trouble when students are smoking directly outside of building doors because there is no way I can escape it. I think students should be allowed to smoke on campus, but the rule of smoking 25 feet away from building doors should be enforced.”

Another KSC student who said she deals with secondhand smoke issues is junior and occupational and health safety major Felicia Barnes-Albini. Barnes-Albini said that she didn’t start smoking until she came to college and used to smoke outside of her dorm or the Owl’s nests when she lived on campus at the beginning of her college career. She said that she rarely smokes now. “Actually, secondhand smoke is what got me to stop smoking for the most part,” Barnes-Albini said. “Even when I smoked cigarettes regularly, I didn’t like when other people would smoke cigarettes and I were to walk by.”

The preamble in the Keene State Student Handbook states that “efforts to promote a tobacco/smoke-free environment have led to substantial reductions in the number of people who smoke, the amount of tobacco products consumed and the number of people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke.” Campus Safety and the college itself is working to enforce these rules for the health and safety of those who smoke and those who don’t.

Grace Pecci can be contacted at gpecci@kscequinox.com

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