A Better yOU: Clean air campus

Katie Rose

Many universities around the nation are becoming a clean air campus. According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, as of the beginning of this year, there are at least 1,475 smoke-free campuses in the country and the number continues to grow.

“Some individuals who smoke may feel that their rights are violated by the clean air policy. However, smoking does not affect just the smoker,” Erica Wallace, Health and Wellness Coordinator at Graham Health Center said. “In the same way that individuals are permitted to own guns but are not permitted to have weapons on OU’s campus as a precaution for the campus community, a ban on smoking attempts to ensure individuals will not be exposed to secondhand smoke.”

The purpose of this smoke-free and tobacco-free campus is to protect students and employees from the dangers of secondhand smoke and to promote a clean and healthy environment. However, smokers—both student and employee—can still be seen on campus. 

College campuses are not the only ones promoting smoke-free lifestyles. Popular television channel MTV has put out a Truth Campaign to encourage the millenial generation to be the generation that stops smoking. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also airs the most terrifying commercials of the stories of real former smokers. These campaigns are out there to show the largely negative effects of smoking on health and the quality of life.

It’s common knowledge that smoking is bad. But, just how bad is it? Smoking can cause increased risk of heart disease, peripheral artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, asthma, lung cancer…and the list goes on and on.

“It’s the leading cause of lung cancer and contributes to heart disease and stroke. But smoking is still relatively high among 18-24 year olds, with around 20% of that age group regularly smoking,” Wallace said.  

Many of these health effects can ultimately result in death. The CDC reports there are over 480,000 deaths each year in the United States due to smoking, and smoking is one of the most preventable causes of death. Secondhand smoke also has detrimental effects on health.

“Secondhand smoke contains toxic substances and carcinogens; over 7,000 people per year die from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke exposure,” Wallace said. “Smoke can also be triggering for individuals with allergies and asthma.”

It’s frightening how this little tube of tobacco has the power to kill even those that do not smoke firsthand.

What happens if you stop smoking? According to Graham Health Center, “within 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse rate drop. In 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases. In 48 hours your nerve endings adjust to the absence of nicotine. In 72 hours your lung capacity increases, making it easier to breathe.” Smoking cessation begins to improve your health almost instantly. 

If you are trying to quit, Graham Health Center on campus has a bunch of resources. Wallace encourages those trying to quit to join “Freedom from Smoking”, which is an 8-session cessation program. This program is available at no cost to university employees and students.  Again, this program is free! Take advantage of this resource by visiting http://wwwp.oakland.edu/ghc/wellness/smoking-cessation/ for more information. Let’s work together to make Oakland University a true clean air campus.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only. No guarantee made as to the accuracy of this information. If you are in need of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, contact Oakland University Graham Health Center at 248-370-2341.

Upcoming environmental, health, and wellness events:

  • American Red Cross Club General Meeting, February 10th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lake Superior B Room in the Oakland Center
  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection General Meeting, February 11th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lake Superior A Room in the Oakland Center
  • Active Minds at OU, Careers in Psychology and Mental Health Panel, February 15th, 11:00am -1:00pm, Fireside Lounge
  • Student Congress Mind Matters, March 7th, 1:00pm – 4:00pm, Gold Rooms in the Oakland Center