By Kayla Overbey
Friday, February 17th, 2012
As non-smoking policies become more popular on campuses across the nation, University of Kansas students and faculty weigh the idea of a campus without cigarette smoke in the air.
KAYLA OVERBEY, reporter: This is Kayla Overbey from “Live, Eat, Sleep”: a view on health from the eyes of a student.
Each day as students walk to class on the University of Kansas campus, they are exposed to the effects of secondhand smoke. Many campuses across the nation are enforcing new policies that could fine students and faculty heavily for smoking on campus, and students are having mixed reactions.
For some non-smokers, the threat of secondhand smoke is a mild inconvenience.
KATIE HOWARD (student, University of Kansas): I’m Katie Howard, I’m a senior from Derby, Kansas. I mean they’re going to find that anywhere, like, walking around downtown Mass Street or, I don’t know, I think you’ll find it anywhere so people just kind of have to get used to it and adapt.
OVERBEY: But K.U. senior Natalie Evans sees it as detrimental to her health.
NATALIE EVANS (student, University of Kansas): I think it’s gross and there’s nothing worse than walking behind someone that’s smoking. Nothing will ruin a day like that, in my opinion.
OVERBEY: The effects of secondhand smoke are dangerous, says K.U. Health Educator Ken Sarber
KEN SARBER (Health Educator, University of Kansas): Well, my name is Ken Sarber, I’m a health educator at the University of Kansas with the, uh, student health services department. It can add up over time very, very significantly. Devestating to someone who’s just breathing in secondhand smoke.
OVERBEY: Campuses such as the University of Arkansas, Iowa State and the University of Missouri are enforcing smoke-free policies. The University of California at Santa-Barbara’s policy includes a 75 dollar fine for those who break the rules. K.U. student and smoker Alex Hodges says he would be indifferent to a similar policy for K.U.’s campus.
ALEX HODGES (student, University of Kansas): Alex Hodges, I’m a fifth-year senior. I wouldn’t mind, I mean–I don’t–this is literally the only place I smoke on campus, outside the library, and walking on campus, it’s kind of annoying.
OVERBEY: Instead of going entirely smoke free, some campuses are creating designated areas for smoking. K.U. student Stephan Metzgal thinks that this strategy would not be effective.
STEPHAN METZGAL (student, University of Kansas): You know the analogy that’s always used is, uh, a designated area for smoking is like having a designated area in a pool for peeing. If somebody’s going to pee in a pool, the pee is gonna go everywhere. If somebody smokes in a designated area the cigarette smoke is not gonna be confined to that area.
OVERBEY: Ken Sarber adds that approximately 15 percent of the K.U. population smokes. According to the K.U. Institute for Policy and Social Research, that 15 percent is about four thousand people. With such a large number, Sarber says smoke would be unavoidable, even if confined to designated areas.
SARBER: And plus, where are you going to put the designated areas? I mean, everywhere on K.U.’s campus there’s people walking. So, there’s not really a safe place to put it to where you’re not going to have this cloud of smoke running over to the sidewalks or anything, so. I don’t think, for our campus, that would be a very good option.
OVERBEY: Sarber says that nationwide smoke-free campuses are inevitable. But for the time being, K.U. will not be changing its policy.
SARBER: I think K.U. will not be doing it anytime soon. I think in the future you’re going to see almost every university’s gonna be going that direction.
SIGN OFF: This is Kayla Overbey, “Live, Eat, Sleep.”