FGCU is home to a lot of cliques. There are the sorority girls with beach blonde hair who flash perfect smiles and well-practiced sorority signs, as well as the athletes who always seem to be working out even on their way to class. Then, there are the smokers who have made themselves at home in the haze of smoke that surrounds them next to Reed Hall, and for this particular group, their home is about to be torn down.
On Feb. 24, Senior Administrative Assistant Tammy McCaslin, sent out a campus wide email detailing the committee that was appointed for the decision on making the campus tobacco-free.
The same day, President William Bradshaw released a letter stating, “based on campus-wide discussions and feedback by students, faculty and staff over the past few years, my goal is to fully carry out a smoke/tobacco-free campus beginning with the summer semester of 2016…”
A tobacco-free campus has been up for debate for years, but is about to go into effect as early as next summer which means bad news for student smokers.
According to its website, FGCU is home to over 14,000 students who don’t have to look far to find a cloud of smoke blocking their path.
One of these students is Hakeem Bastien, a Residential Assistant and Biology major at the university. Bastien, like many students, walks past the designated smoker area on campus on his way to class every day.
“I don’t like the smoker section,” Bastien says, “But I go through it ‘cause it’s convenient. My kids Daycare provider Amanda Fleishman is walking with several kids on their way to the Veterans Pavillion to play. She said that she didn’t like the smell of the smoke in the area, but preferred that side over the other because of the shade.
“My class is in AB7, so why would I walk on the other side to cross over? I’d rather just walk straight.,” says Bastien.
Like Bastien, there are others who choose to walk past the smoking areas but for others, it’s not that simple. Amanda Fleishman, a daycare teacher for the children of students that attend FGCU says the same as she walks a group of 12 children past the area on their way to the Veterans Pavilion.
“I hate walking that way cause of the smoke. Especially with the kids. You know, sometimes I find myself holding my breath,” says Fleishman but the same can’t be said for the children she walks with.
Though walking past the designated smoking area is convenient, the exposure to the second-hand smoke people inhale while doing so is dangerous and life threatening.
Alyssa Boone, a cancer information specialist for the American Cancer Society said that according to the corporation’s statistics, there have been more than 20 million smoking-related deaths in the United States with 2.5 million of those deaths being from those who died from exposure to second-hand smoke.
“I’m not sure how long you have to be exposed for it to take an effect, but research does show that second-hand smoke correlates to heart problems, asthma, lower respiratory tract problems, birth defects, and other diseases,” said Boone.
Diseases that most people are aware of, but, that doesn’t explain why so many students continue to blow off second-hand smoke as if it’s not a big deal.
Second-hand smoke is a leading cause to lung cancer, but students like Bastien are not quite aware of how dangerous it can be to their health.
“Second hand smoke is all over the place, so it doesn’t matter.” Bastien says, “Even though I’m only getting that little second-hand smoke, [it] isn’t doing much damage.”
Unfortunately for Bastien, this isn’t true.
“No level of second-hand smoke is safe,” Boone says, “Not even for a few seconds of passing through it. It still does damage to your lungs and is the leading cause of lung cancer in patients.”
But there’s good news for those already exposed either directly or through second-hand smoke.
“Over time, the second you quit or get away from it, your body begins to repair itself,” says Boone. Which is why FGCU’s decision to go tobacco-free is a great one that even Samantha Long, a student smoker, agrees with.
“I don’t mind the campus being tobacco-free,” Long says, “Certain smokers ruin it for everyone. I think it’s a good move for FGCU seeing as they are environmentally based school…”
When asked if the tobacco-free change would have affected her decision to come to the school if she were an incoming freshmen, Long laughed. “I love FGCU and I don’t plan to go to any other university.”