Smokeout or smoke less?

The objective of CMU Smokeout, a new anti-smoking group on campus, is to raise awareness about the environmental, political, and health-related effects of smoking. The group’s actions, however, go a step further. CMU Smokeout has been working to assist Student Health Services in Healthy Campus 2010, a national initiative designed to make participating college campuses smoke-free by the end of the decade.

Healthy Campus 2010, a program designed by the American College Health Association, “establishes national college health objectives and serves as a basis for developing plans to improve student health,” according to its website.

Eliminating smoking is just one of the program’s initiatives. According to CMU Smokeout president Jared Ross, a senior chemistry major, Healthy Campus 2010 is “a comprehensive solution — not just a ban on smoking.” Instead of just prohibiting smoking on campus, Healthy Campus 2010 also intends to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco, provide smoking cessation programs, and stop campus vendors such as Entropy from selling tobacco products. The organizers of this initiative are starting with small changes, such as moving ashtrays farther away from buildings.

According to CMU Smokeout vice-president Alisa Brown, a senior psychology major, information and support for those interested in quitting are already available at Carnegie Mellon. “Student Health Services offers counseling, as does the American Cancer Society,” she said. “Highmark, an insurance provider that offers the Carnegie Mellon health plan, even offers monetary incentives to those who are willing to quit smoking.”

“Did you know that $75.5 billion per year of the government’s money goes to health care costs for smoking-related illnesses?” asked Ross. “Doesn’t that seem like a huge burden for taxpayers?”

Regardless of the reasons for not smoking, any program that intends to eliminate smoking from our campus will receive backlash from the smoking community. “Yeah, it’s harsh to ban smoking, but everybody agrees that it’s bad for you,” said Brown. “Even all of the opposition doesn’t really make an argument for the benefits of smoking, but rather, that eliminating smoking is destroying our freedom of choice.”

Ross and Brown want to make it clear that CMU Smokeout is not anti-smoking or putting forth any political views; the primary goal is to help people who want to quit but can’t. CMU Smokeout also intends to work with outside organizations such as Highmark, bring in speakers, and open the lines of communication about the impending Healthy Campus initiative.