A New Solution to the Air Pollution


Would you like to hold your breath all the way from Bernard Brommel Hall to the B Building or would you prefer to take in a deep breath of fresh air? Most would like to breathe on their walks between classes and so would I.

NEIU’s new smoke-free campus policy will be a welcomed change for some students, especially the non-smoking students of NEIU. There are several arguments for both sides but one strong argument in favor of the non-smokers is the fact that there is a long and well-known documented health risk from smoking cigarettes and the use of nicotine on our bodies.

NEIU’s policy has changed due to a new bill, SB2202: Smoke-Free Campus Act, which states that, “Beginning July 1, 2015, smoking is prohibited on each campus of a State-supported institution of higher education.”

So far the bill mentions that all parts of the campus will be covered except for a driver in their vehicle passing through should the vehicle be private property and not property of the state-supported institutions. Some students believe that a possible smoking-zone will be a good compromise.

“I personally don’t smoke, but I don’t want to infringe on other’s rights to smoke outdoors,” said Adrian Morales, an education major at NEIU.

Even a current smoker who had previously quit for a few months explained that she couldn’t even stand walking by groups of people smoking in front of the entrances. Yadira Ovalle said, “When I stopped smoking I didn’t want to be around it but people were freaking smoking everywhere.”

Rudy Hernandez, justice studies major at NEIU, believes that this new policy will not only be good for the non-smokers but it could “give smokers the initiative to quit smoking.” Maybe if the designated areas are few and far from where most go to smoke it won’t be as easy to light up as before, therefore reducing the amount of cigarettes they smoke per day; this could also have a positive impact on their pockets if it causes them to purchase less packs.

The main concern, and ultimately what may have led to the decision of the bill, was the dangers from second hand smoke. The smoke-free campus act lists statistics backing up their resolution to make public campuses non-smoking. It cites that, “Secondhand tobacco smoke causes at least 65,000 deaths each year from heart disease and lung cancer according to the National Cancer Institution.”

Kyle Corcoran, another student at NEIU who smokes, said his opinion of the policy is that, “Personally, I think it’s a joke.” Corcoran said that those who want to avoid the secondhand smoke can “walk further away.” Unfortunately not everyone believes that’s an easy solution. Fajila Tailor, early childhood education major, said that, “I’m allergic to any kind of smoke; it kind of affects students’ lives.” Tailor said that to avoid the secondhand smoke she has to “just walk faster,” or “find a different route.” But is that fair? Why do the students who do not smoke have to be the ones to try and find different routes to their classes and go out of their way to avoid the smoke for their health?

Many argue it is the same as drinking, it’s legal in this country and it’s a personal choice. Yes it is, yet unlike drinking which only affects the drinker’s health, smoking affects those around you. You are not the only one receiving the consequences.

The smoke-free campus act also will require NEIU to create a task force to implement the new policy, so it will not only be up to the students to simply obey and not smoke on the school grounds.  Some of us can only hope this will truly make a lasting change and we can all finally breathe a little easier.