I am a smoker. I have been a smoker since I was 13 years old. Now I am 44. I’m not saying smoking is good for me. In fact, I know it’s not — I’ve struggled with quitting for years. Once, I quit for two years. Later, I quit when my grandson was born. It hasn’t been easy — it’s a terrible addiction that I have yet to conquer.
Still, that’s not what I am writing about. I walk around UR’s campus and see cigarette butts all over the place and, disgracefully so, in front of Rush Rhees Library. They are on the steps and all around the Eastman Quad. As I walk around campus, I notice that there are a few ash trays which are positioned so that smokers do not smoke directly in front of the buildings. That is a good thing. Even as a smoker, I don’t want to walk through someone else’s smoke when entering a building — sometimes when exiting the front of Rush Rhees, I am overcome with the stink and halo of cigarette smoke. There should be respect for these venerable buildings and for others.
While it’s obvious that far fewer people smoke regularly than did when I was young, it seems that some of those who do have no regard for the beauty of our campus when it comes to smoking. Quite frankly, standing in front of one of the beautiful campus buildings and smoking is undignified to say the least. There are also places near the corners or sides of buildings, such as Morey Hall, for example, where people often smoke. I admit it; I am guilty of it myself. I always crush my cigarette out and when I am sure there is no fire on it, I deposit the butt in the trash can. When I do, I notice about a dozen or so butts that have missed their mark and are lying on the edge of the trash can along the rim. It’s kind of gross.
While the University does have rules about how many feet a person has to be from a building to be allowed to smoke, and there are a few ashtrays here and there, I wonder if more can be done to educate and inform smokers of smoking rules and etiquette. We smokers should agree not to deface our campus or smoke in areas where people have to breathe our smokey exhalations.
Let’s face it. We need to quit; it’s killing us. Until we do, we need to have some respect — we’re lucky we can smoke on campus at all. Go over to the UR Medical Center and you will find yourself on a smoke-free campus. Those who smoke must cross the street in order to do so. If we smokers cannot appreciate the privilege of smoking on the River Campus, then perhaps that privilege should be taken away. We don’t want to have to cross the river in order to smoke. Let’s keep our campus free of cigarette butts and make sure our smoke doesn’t bother people who are going in and out of buildings on campus.
Moorefield is a member of the class of 2014.