EDITORIAL: Tobacco-free campuses

Itawamba Community College’s decision to become a tobacco-free institution Jan. 1 makes a bold statement about its broader long-term priorities, including the good health and longevity of its students, patrons and employees.
ICC joins Blue Mountain College as the only tobacco-free campuses in Northeast Mississippi, The others – Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Northeast Mississippi Community College – all restrict tobacco use to designated areas on the campus or have minimum distance provisions away from campus buildings.
Smoking bans on campuses are relatively new to Mississippi measured against the movement nationwide, but momentum appears to be strengthening to further crack down on the killer addiction to nicotine identified by every medical organization as a scourge on personal and public health.
ICC’s action places it among hundreds of other university and community college campuses and systems nationwide where bans have been implemented – not without protest but largely with significant success.
We believe Ole Miss, MSU, Northeast and all the other state-supported colleges and universities should follow ICC’s lead: Ban tobacco product use.
Plenty of precedents provide good examples.
The University of Florida, the largest university in the Southeastern Conference (51,000 students), instituted a campuswide tobacco ban July 1.
Pennsylvania’s higher education regents imposed a systemwide ban at 14 state-funded universities in 2008.
Health-conscious people and advocacy organizations have pushed for decades to achieve tobacco bans.
Opponents contend that bans violate rights and create major inconvenience infringing on personal freedom. Courts have said tobacco use is not a right. Medical research has proven that convenience is not a valid issue. Smoke – inhaled and secondary – is potentially deadly. Smokeless tobacco carries almost all the health risks associated with tobacco smoke.
Cigarette smoking:
– Kills 443,000 Americans every year.
– Causes 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men, 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women and 90 percent of deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease.
– Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
– Cigarette smoking causes reduced circulation by narrowing the blood vessels and puts smokers at risk for developing peripheral vascular disease (i.e., obstruction of the large arteries in the arms and legs that can cause a range of problems from pain to tissue loss or gangrene).
– Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.
– Smokeless tobacco causes esophageal and various types of oral cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, cheek, gums, lips and tongue.
Every college banning tobacco advances better health.

NEMS Daily Journal