There has been a lot of talk recently about my current student government advocacy, and hopefully this letter will bring to light as to why I am working hard to change the student conduct code at Chapman – to make our prestigious university 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free.
There are many reasons why I believe that Chapman should go completely smoke- and tobacco-free, but my main rationale goes back to high school, starting with a girl named Jill Costello. Jill rowed on my high school rowing team and was recruited by the University of California, Berkeley because of her talent as a coxswain. Soon after starting her first year at Cal in 2009, Jill was diagnosed with lung cancer and died a year later. Jill never smoked in her life – and professionals speculate that exposure to secondhand smoke played a part in her death. Lung cancer is among the deadliest cancers in existence; yet the least amount of funding goes into research for the cure of this disease.
In 2014, Berkeley, along with all other University of California and California State University campuses became 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free. The current number of completely smoke- and tobacco-free campuses is now at 1,620 – 65 percent of all universities in the nation. The number has been steadily increasing since 2010, when only 18 percent of schools were smoke- and tobacco-free.
In 2009, the American College Health Association changed its stance on smoking on college campuses, and wrote in a statement that, “there is a need to protect employees and students from exposure to secondhand smoke on college campuses and create an expectation that this living and working environment be smoke-free.” It can be inferred that this created the upward trend in smoke- and tobacco-free college campuses in the U.S. Because of numbers such as these, I believe that it’s time that Chapman makes the step that other schools have made.
It’s been stated numerous times by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Surgeon General that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and other medical complications.
Currently in California, smoking is already prohibited within 20 feet of all public doors and exits, including those on college campuses. The Rinker Health Science Campus is already 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free, and if Chapman’s health professionals are not risking their own lives to exposure to secondhand smoke, why do we not do the same on our Orange campus?
On Nov. 6, I brought forward a resolution to our undergraduate senate, asking for its support to request a change in the student conduct code of Chapman for smoking and tobacco usage. This resolution passed unanimously with one abstention, showing that our senate, a body made up of leaders elected by the student body to be its voice, is nearly completely in favor of this initiative being enacted on campus. A survey was released and publicized in Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jerry Price’s weekly email as well as on many different social media platforms, which helped us come to a realization that a large majority – 78.2 percent of the student body – is in favor of Chapman becoming completely smoke- and tobacco-free.
A question about smoke zones on campus comes up very frequently, and we have definitely considered this as a way to handle the situation. However, because of Chapman’s small campus size, smoke zones don’t make much sense at all. The smoke zones could instead be considered public sidewalk around the outskirts of campus, because sidewalk and streets are Orange public property. Also, programs from the Orange County Health Care Agency are being brought onto campus that will help people who are trying to quit – if they want to quit – and these programs may start as early as 2016. We really care about the smoker, and don’t want to put anyone down – we want to help, and bring programs to lift people up.
Jill’s life may have been lost because of secondhand smoke, but it’s our duty to stop the same from occurring to any students at Chapman.