Following is the excerpt of my letter to the editor of our university magazine “exponent” on an ongoing debate about “Tobacco free campus policy”. My letter was incited due to an article from a fellow bobcat. Her article is available in this link.
I like many other are aware of the heated debate over the plan to ban tobacco usage in the campus. A column in Opinion-Issues section incited me to write this letter. I completely understand and agree that Ms. Exley is entitled to her opinion as I am to my disagreement to hers.
She in her article stated various statistical reports in the article stating the inconclusiveness of the effects of second hand smoke. I am not bothered about the legitimacy of such reports as there will be statistical claims for either side. What Irked me the most was her last paragraph in the article. She started of saying as if she is the advocate of freedom. She went on comparing the usage of ‘fatty foods’ ‘automobiles’ and ‘alcohol’. Isn’t that ridiculous. All the three mentioned are no way harmful to the person standing next to you when properly used. Alcohol is anyway banned on campus and does not demand any more attention in this letter. And yes, students can be left to decide since they are adults as she mentioned. However, here nobody is worried about their diet or health. What the champions of “Tobacco free campus policy” is worried about is the nuisance created by the users to non users.
I, a non-resident student chose MSU-Bozeman as my graduate school as I wanted to live and study in an environment devoid of city pollution and is aplenty with fresh mountain air. As I take a deep breath outside the library or in various sidewalks outside the confinements of bricks, I am not welcomed by fresh mountain air, but smoke of various toxins from second hand smokers. I didn’t come here for that. Period. I am not afraid about the imminent lung cancer it(second hand smoke) could create inside me. I am more worried about the implications it has on my psyche having to smoke those toxins.
It’s winter time, I can’t even run on the grass to escape the smoke filled sidewalks. I have to either hold my breath until I pass over the dangerous ‘walking-smoker’ or until I decide to give up and shake my head in dejection about the ‘last best place’.
-Santhosh K Ramachandran