UAB should not be smoke-free
Posted on Aug 08, 2012 in Opinion
Had a bad day? Nerves on edge? Itching for a cigarette? Well, forget about it. For the past 15 years, the American Lung Association in Alabama has been working with several health organizations to raise public awareness about the risks of tobacco use. However, raising awareness isn’t what they’re all about. The association also advocates the prohibition of smoking in all public areas including campuses, workplaces, restaurants and even bars.
Although state legislators have not yet passed a bill that would put such a heavy restriction on smokers, several colleges in Alabama have already established a smoke-free campus. Some include ITT Tech in Bessemer, Troy University and Jacksonville State University. Our very own UAB might not be too far behind.
About 27 percent of students are smokers. How would such restrictions shape the students on campus that smoke? Many students attribute their smoking habit to alleviation of stress or depression.
I asked a fellow student how he would feel about a smoke-free campus, and his instant response was: “You gotta be kidding me. What am I going to do during finals?”
The most stressful time of the college semester is the last two weeks of classes when you think you’ve got it (or you know you don’t). You’re still pulling your hair out five seconds before the test. Well, for smokers those last five seconds are spent standing outside staring at a sheet of notes in one hand and a cigarette to calm their nerves in the other. Studies show that students who are more relaxed during test taking do better than those who are stressed or anxious. Thus, this restriction may actually lower the grades of students who are accustomed to using tobacco to calm their nerves.
All these things considered, the surveys of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still show that more than 70 percent of Alabama residents would support a bill that would prohibit smoking in all public places. The day when students will have to take a quick jog off campus to alleviate their stress seems to be fast approaching.