Letter to the Editor

By Alexander Ross

Maybe if I close my eyes and read fast enough, I won’t have to see it, namely the uneducated remarks of Ms. Emily Pizza.

Pizza did not reference any of her statistics. Let me reference them for you: it is EPA Document Number 43-F-93-003. The Journal of Clinical Oncology had this to say:

“In 1992, the  EPA published a review of the epidemiologic studies on the effect of ETS (Environmental Tobacco Smoke)… it included former smokers in the nonsmoker category.”

In fact, the study was later thrown out by the US Supreme Court because it “Cherry Picked” to prove a predetermined conclusion.

From the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: 1) No clear dose-response relationship could be demonstrated for cumulative ETS exposure, 2) exposure to ETS from other sources (not spouses, family, or workplace) was not associated with lung cancer risk.

All of the studies done on smoking related to disease are examining people who work in an indoor environment, or people who live with someone that smokes indoors. Any study you read about secondhand smoke is about prolonged, direct exposure in an indoor location. We will all agree that banning smoking indoors at K is acceptable. Outdoors, there is absolutely no statistically relevant study to show that ETS is going to kill you.

Smokers of K: be respectful.  Adhere to the 25 foot rule.  Do not be rude. Some don’t like smoke.  Nonsmokers: Don’t bask in it, keep walking. A quick brush with smoke in the air will not leave you smelling like smoke.

Students of K: Don’t advocate for legislating someone’s personal, legal decision. Students have the freedom as adults to make their own choices.  Live with unpleasant smells. I assume you defecate, do you complain when your feces stinks?  But we won’t legislate bathrooms to outlaw defecation.

Letter to the Editor

By Francesca DeAnda

Last week’s rhetorically charged opinion article, “Clear the Haze: a Call for a Smoke Free Campus” by Emily Pizza, informs the K community of one thing we already know: smoking is unhealthy and may bother non-smokers. Yet this message is practically lost and any resolution without the alienation to a portion of our community rendered impossible due to sensationalist examples and us-versus-them rhetoric.

First let me state that as a nonsmoker, I agree with several parts of Pizza’s argument. Namely that smoking and second-hand smoke is unhealthy, and reducing second-hand smoke exposure is preferable. However, I do not agree with Pizza’s proposed “solution” or with her use of colorful examples that will more likely antagonize and provoke rather than foster a solution acceptable to all.

To demonstrate how Pizza’s language serves to sensationalize and divide, let us consider the following example: “It seems like wherever we turn, a puff of smoke makes our eyes water and throat burn. While I don’t have the power to get smokers to stop, the administration has the ability to help.” First let us disregard whether or not Pizza is being entirely forthcoming with her stated goal of preserving non-smokers’ lungs or whether to provoke the administration to play big-brother and decide for our well-informed students what is best for them—not to mention the slippery slope this sort of call-to-action invites to limit the countless other daily habits that could be seen as negatively affecting others. Regarding the divisive language, Pizza’s “we”, who are seemingly hounded by ‘inconsiderate’ smokers, represents our College community in its entirety and diminishes smokers to voiceless Outsiders who would then be severely inconvenienced and forced to quit doing something that they have every right to choose to do.

It is precisely this sort of charged rhetoric that provokes intense emotions, divisiveness, and adds credence to Kalamazoo College’s stereotype of narrow mindedness and progressive elitism. While Pizza’s dream for a utopic smoke-free Kalamazoo College is commendable, the problem with it is that it alienates a good majority of our campus population by attacking smokers in the most sensationalist way possible and excluding them from the conversation. Pitting a portion of the campus against one another is not a revolutionary solution.

What would truly be “revolutionary” then, for those with opinions like Pizza’s, would be to engage with—instead of ostracize—a significant percentage of our campus population. Inviting discussion and attempting compromise instead resorting to demagogy is both more effective and in the spirit of K. I believe compromise is not only possible, but would be welcomed by many—as smokers could light up without judging glances and non-smokers could avoid the smoke if they so choose.

Clear the Haze: A Call for a Smoke Free Campus

By Emily Pizza

Walking outside the library every day after my work shift I take a deep breath and half-sprint down the stairs towards my dorm, hoping that if I walk quick enough, the stench of cigarettes won’t cling to my clothing.

I, along with many other students, cannot stand the amount of smoking that goes on in public areas we have to walk through, especially on such a small campus. It seems like wherever we turn, a puff of smoke makes our eyes water and throat burn. While I don’t have the power to get smokers to stop, the administration has the ability to help.

Our collegiate neighbor, Western Michigan Univeristy, declared that as of September 1, 2014, its campus will be entirely tobacco-free. The only place to smoke would be personal-owned vehicles.

And it’s about time.

It is a pretty well-known fact that second-hand smoking kills, but how about the statistic that secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.  Or how about the fact that secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 deaths from lung cancer annually in the United States.

I think we can all agree that these statistics are concerning, especially for the well-being of the students on campus.

We spend our nights and early mornings working our butts off to get a degree so we can get a job and change the world, so why would we put ourselves in an environment where our lives could be cut short?

Our campus is small enough that if people really wanted to smoke, a few minutes of walking could get them to a smoking area. If spending hundreds of dollars a year for cigarettes is worth it for smokers, I’m sure a few minutes of walking isn’t that big of a deal.

How can we stand by as we allow the future congressmen, doctors, engineers, and social justice activists to have their body forcibly pumped with carcinogens?

It’s about time that we challenge the norm that smoking is something that we all have to deal with. It’s about time that those who choose not to coat their lungs in tar are not subjected to the same side effects smokers are.

It’s time for a non-smoking revolution.