As I walk outside my dorm each morning, I become privy to a breathtaking winter experience – a blanket of fresh snow covers the ground as well as the boughs of the trees; the cerulean blue sky spotted with clouds, with the sun’s rays poking through at times not for warmth, but to make the snow glisten; the crisp air filling my lungs and?I COUGH. What did I just inhale? Is it?cigarette smoke?

Yes, the smoke seems to pervade every nook on River Campus, from the dormitories to the steps in front of Rush Rhees Library. The irony comes into play when presented with the fact that UR is one of the country’s leading private universities, ranked No. 34 by U.S. News’s America’s Best Colleges 2007 out of 124 national universities and named a “New Ivy League” school in 2006. UR also boasts a medical center that consistently delves into state-of-the-art research, such as the development of the now-nationwide HPV vaccine Gardasil. And yet, one of the nation’s top killers is allowed to be present everywhere on campus. We are at this amazing University, working toward a higher education degree, and there are still students smoking on campus.

According to a 2004 National Health Interview Study, approximately 25.1 million men and 20.9 million women, roughly 23.4 and 18.5 percent respectively, are smokers.

Smoking causes over 100,000 respiratory deaths each year, along with nearly 160,000 cardiovascular deaths that can be attributed to smoking. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart disease, and smokers have more than twice the risk of heart attack as non-smokers and are more susceptible to strokes.

We are all intelligent students and, more than that, human beings. We are more than capable of making informed, reasonable decisions. I am simply saying that I do not agree with the choice to smoke, since more often than not, the reason students smoke – according to some – is the “coolness factor” or the “rebellious nature of youth.” Whatever the case may be, students are beginning to start their lives on their own, and they are setting themselves up for a life of addiction and coughing if they continue in this manner.

There has been talk about making the River Campus completely smoke-free, like the Medical Center is now. As much as I would love to walk outside and breathe solely the fresh seasonal air, I realize many students would object to that. Perhaps instead of total annihilation of smoking on campus, we could, as a group, make designated spots for smokers, so if you wanted to smoke, you could go over there and do it away from everyone else. This is, of course, not my favorite option, but compromise does lead to success much of the time.

Perhaps the most important statistic to consider is that “smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States” and “half of all continuing smokers will die prematurely as a result of their habit,” according to the American Heart Association’s Web site. So take what has been said and just think about it – think about the fact that this is something you can change.

Halusic is a member ofthe class of 2010.

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