Opinion

A debate so hot it’s smoking

About seven years ago, the University of Miami made an important decision that saves many of us from having to breathe any more smog on campus than we already do from the city itself. I’m referring to cigarette smoke and the suspension of the sale of cigarettes on campus.
It’s been proven time and time again that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health. Smoking, in the words of U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, is the “leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation.” It contains carbon monoxide, which causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, etc. etc. etc. We’ve all heard the facts.
Yet people still continue to do it in abundance. Alas, I am not here to ramble on about the filthy habit, however, or ponder why people choose to do such an ignorant thing. The way I see is that you can smoke your little heart out until your lungs turn black and you’re coughing up blood.
What I do want to talk about is the fact that UM made and has stuck with a decision that still ultimately benefits its students, faculty and administrators. That the University decided that it was not in the best interest of the school community to sell cigarettes on campus, is something for which we can all give the school a resounding thanks.
Some of you may be wondering, why is the sale of alcohol allowed, which it is at the Rat, and cigarettes aren’t? Surely, they are the lesser of the two evils. Not the way I see it. At least alcohol, which is kept as an isolated social activity in one specific area on campus, doesn’t have direct effects on other people. You can’t breathe somebody’s plume of freshly exhaled beer and watch it have an adverse effect on someone the way second-hand smoke does. It’s not even worth comparing.
Yeah, there are still and always will be problems. We may still have to walk behind the occasional stragglers as we’re late for class who are steadily puffing away and blowing the second-hand smoke in our faces. We may still have to walk through somebody’s cloud of smoke as we’re trying to enter a classroom. But think how much worse it would be if one could just walk to a vending machine and pop a couple of packs open like it used to be.
With no plans to ever sell them again on campus, us non-smokers can breathe easy. Besides, it’s not my body or physical health that’s getting destroyed. If you want to die early, there’s nobody stopping you.
But it’s reassuring to know I don’t attend a school that sells an early death to its community.
Derek Bramble is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and theater.

February 8, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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