I usually pride myself in not having opinions about how other people live their lives, but lately, a population on campus has made my chest grow tight. As someone whose lungs do not work great to begin with, I have never contemplated the logic of why someone would want to voluntarily trash them. But I find myself wondering a lot recently as it seems I cannot walk to and from class without someone’s second-hand smoke in my face. It is like the number of smokers has grown overnight. And no, I am not talking to the people who have vaped for that one Snap Story, or those who have stuck a cigarette in their mouth for an aesthetic cover photo. I am talking to those of you who congregate in front of Commons, Brothers, the EC and stoops and back patios scattered around campus, puffing clouds of smoke rapidly into the air like elementary schoolers who have discovered for the first time ever that their breath condenses in frigid temperatures.
Maybe you are reading this and thinking, so what? I am not hurting anyone. If I want to smoke out here in this 23-degree weather, what is the big deal? I will tell you the big deal. First of all, according to Daniel’s Dictionary, the thing no one reads, students should be at least 25 feet away from said buildings. Those of you taking a smoking break by the front doors of BC are a little too close for comfort
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF PINTEREST
Secondly, according to the American Lung Association, as of 2014, “Secondhand smoke causes approximately 7,330 deaths from lung cancer and 33,950 deaths from heart disease each year.” We who have to walk through the smog you emit into the atmosphere are subjected to the exposure of toxic chemicals. Granted, I cannot tell you the exact statistics. I am sure your friends and roommates who are around you often will suffer more than me, but I can tell you that the American Lung Association also states, “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and even short-term exposure potentially can increase the risk of heart attacks.” If I am constantly walking past you on the paths or inhaling it through my window, it is going to affect me, if not today then sometime in the future.
Thirdly, it is a big deal because I feel bad for you. I feel bad for your lungs that are being filled with toxic chemicals. My lungs are damaged with scar tissue from spending the first six months of my life on a breathing machine in the NICU. I still get nightmares of having pneumonia. I have vivid memories of being hooked up to a nebulizer, the sound of fluid in my lungs crackling as I inhaled. I feel bad for you because in ten years, maybe more, my childhood breathing problems will be your entire life. I do not know why you smoke. Maybe you are stressed. Maybe you do not care. Maybe you want lung cancer. But I sure as hell do not.
Sydney is a sophomore English major.