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“25% of current full time college students smoke and one million of them will die prematurely from tobacco use.” – Tobacco Free Mass
To be smoke free or not smoke free, that is the question. Students have been hearing the rumor spread that Emmanuel is going to be smoke free. To clarify, Emmanuel is actually discussing becoming “tobacco free.”
Right now, smoking is allowed on campus in designated areas; the Loretto hall picnic table and the side of the Jean Yawkey Center. However, due to the increase of cigarette butt littering and some complaints about where smokers should go on campus, some are wondering whether Emmanuel should entirely be rid of tobacco.
On Oct. 25, Dean of Students Dr. Joe Onofrietti, Lori Sullivan assistant to Sister Janet Eisner, and Elaria Mehreky, a student, attended a symposium on the subject. Chancellor Michael Collins of the University of Massachusetts invited three members of the Emmanuel community to attend. The symposium was held during the day and it included approximately 35 colleges and universities from New England, some tobacco free and some not.
According to Onofrietti, the symposium married a discussion on tobacco-related health issues with the struggles of being tobacco free or not.
“I thought the time was right for a dialogue for future and present policies,”he said. “Emmanuel College is ready to appoint a cross-campus exploratory team made up of students, faculty and staff.”
The topic is rife with controversies and challenges, and because of this there needs to be a comprehensive discussion on implementing changes to our policies before a final decision is made. A committee with students, staff and administration allows for such an open conversation.
Many colleges and universities have already transitioned to becoming tobacco free, including Northeastern University this September as well as Salem State University back in September 2012. This isn’t an easy decision to make and it can’t be done overnight. By having a committee we can voice every opinion and concern as well as look at the situation from every angle.
“We want to have everyone’s opinion,” said Onofrietti. “Both inputs are important and the task force will be composed of smokers and non-smokers among students, faculty, and administration. The committee will do research on current tobacco free campuses and what they’re doing. We will survey our community on present and future tobacco policies and make a recommendation on what we should do.”
It is a hard issue to tackle considering there are a lot of pros and cons involved and many have strong opinions about what Emmanuel should do.
Dr. Bette Weiss, professor of Biology, explained the health issues with smoking and tobacco. The biggest areas are the respiratory and cardiovascular.
“There’s issues for smokers and non-smokers,” she says. “There’s risk for cancer of the mouth, larynx and other organs.”
She also mentioned chronic obstructive lung disease, as well as emphysema, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Smoking increases the chances of these conditions developing.
In terms of second hand smoke, “It aggravates asthma in children and increases the chance of developing asthma in children. It increases cardiovascular disease for smokers especially. It increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. I hope the committee takes in all the pros and cons when they determine the recommendation.”