Several smoking restriction bills were signed earlier this year by Gov. Jerry Brown. These included raising the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, as well as broadening the types of workplaces that must ban tobacco use on their premises, among other stipulations.
Now, Brown finds himself facing the State Assembly’s legislation to ban smoking or disposal of tobacco products on all campuses of the California State University and California Community College systems by 2018. Seeing Brown’s previous willingness to raise the tobacco age, chances are that he would agree to these bills as well. The State Assembly passed these by a 41-24 vote and this swooping majority showcases the state’s view about tobacco consumption in general, not just cigarette smoking itself.
The ban on smoking in state-owned or operated beaches and parks finds its roots in the environmental and health-related arguments. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty argues that this bill needs to be approved by Brown to ensure a better life for the campus staff, students and faculty as it “addresses the harmful health effects that come with smoking and secondhand smoke on our college campuses.”
This potential ban was preceded by the adoption of a tobacco-free policy on a few California campuses that took effect in 2014. Cal State Fullerton has already fully adopted the policy by banning it on campus. USC, too, needs to address its own smoking concerns. Currently, smoking is not allowed inside public establishments, and smokers have to be at least 20 feet from a building to light up. To accommodate students who do not smoke, there are multiple designated smoke-free areas around campus. This policy has been around for a long time, but looking at the current trend and the way other neighboring schools are moving away from smoking or secondhand smoke, it becomes crucial to acknowledge how harmful smoking really is.
As of spring 2012, 14.4 percent of USC students smoked daily or one or more days a week, according to a report by the USC American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment. The same study found that undergraduates smoke more frequently than graduate students. So, if that is the case, in these past three to four years, it may not have decreased. This begs the question of whether students actually realize that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. It also leads to about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent in women. Considering the kind of facts that surround smoking, one would expect USC to become more rigid with its policies after all, as Sen. Marty Block pointed out, cigarettes are non-biodegradable and contain more than 164 toxic chemicals which create a substantial trash and health issue. USC must account not only for health hazards, but environmental concerns as well. Even UCLA adopted a restriction on smoking on campus in 2013 and became the first of the UC schools to do so. So shouldn’t we follow UCLA’s footsteps and attempt to make a difference in the lives of all those who come to USC everyday, from the security personnel to the student body? Rigidity could revolutionize and increase the lifespan of all those who call themselves proud members of the Trojan Family.