posted 2011-09-07 14:00:08

Smoke-Free Freedom at Hunter!

Smoking near entrances / Mimiko Watanabe
Smoking near entrances / Mimiko Watanabe
Cynthia Perez

Contributing Writer

Hunter North to Hunter West is a simple walk across 68th Street. A breath of fresh air would be nice between classes, but instead one often inhales clouds of smoke from the cigarettes of students, staff and faculty.

Soon, however, that breath of fresh air will become a reality at Hunter College.

Following expansion by the CUNY Tobacco Policy Advisory Committee, Hunter’s new tobacco policy now reads in part, “Beginning in Fall 2012, smoking and tobacco use, including the use of snus and electronic cigarettes, are strictly prohibited in all areas, including indoor, outdoor, and vehicles, that are owned, leased, operated, or maintained by Hunter College.”

So it will take another year for the policy to actually come to pass, but I’ll be counting down the days until I can be on a smoke-free campus.

I cannot tell you how painful it is to walk around the entrance of any Hunter building and have smoke fill my lungs. Last year I joked around about how one day I was going to develop second-hand smoke lung cancer just by being outside. But, more seriously, I did feel that my health was in jeopardy. The giant smoke cloud after my biology lecture on Tuesdays and Thursdays made my eyes tear.

Don’t get me wrong—if you need to smoke, go ahead and smoke—just be mindful of who’s around you. It’s annoying to walk behind a smoker who’s blowing his cigarette fumes all over the place.  Or having to pass through a congregation of smokers standing at the entrances, blasting everyone exiting the building with a smoky haze.

Why is it important that you be mindful of others? One has to remember that some people have medical problems, and that others want to be capable of making choices regarding their own health. Some people have asthma, some Hunter students are Senior Citizens, and still other students bring their children into the daycare here.  We, as a community, should be looking out for our fellow students, regardless of lifestyle.

For people who smoke, I understand that it is a little stressful knowing that you have to walk off to another avenue just to take a quick cigarette. And if a group of smokers just end up accumulating in an area just off-campus, doesn’t it defeat the purpose of trying to make a healthier New York? The pedestrians passing by the smokers at that spot will be just as frustrated as the non-smokers at Hunter College.

If it were up to me, we would ban smoking from Hunter College and the other CUNY schools without waiting an entire year.  At the same time, we’d have to try to make the smokers happy as well. Hunter should designate an area away from pedestrians and non-smoking students, where all the smokers can puff on their cigarettes happily.

All in all, here’s to a smoke-free future at Hunter College.