Outdoor smoking is a public health risk

By
  • Emily Lorenz, University student
October 24, 2011

I’ve seen the debate about whether to have a campus smoking ban for the past few years.


One side wants a campus wide ban of smoking because non-smokers should not have to endure secondhand smoke, a known health risk, while commuting to class. Others argue that smoking is a legal right and that a policy banning it would be unenforceable.


Secondhand smoke can trigger attacks for people with breathing disorders. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, one in 12 adults has asthma. I don’t have asthma, but I do have a breathing disorder that is also aggravated by secondhand smoke.


When someone lights up next to me at a bus stop I can go from normal lung function to a full attack within seconds. The real problem for me is that when I have an attack, my vocal cords collapse over my windpipe leaving me unable to speak.


The vast majority of smokers I’ve encountered have remained completely oblivious to the distress they are putting me in with their actions, which continually amazes me as my attacks are loud and frequently draw stares. The swollen vocal cords make a whistling sound as I try to breathe.


I respect that smokers have a legal right to smoke. However, a right is no longer a right when it infringes upon the rights of another. The right to breathe will always surpass the right to smoke.


So smokers, next time you go to light up think about it: Do you know the medical history of the person standing next to you, or the person walking behind you?

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