Sitting next to a cigarette smoker can be a deadly situation for some students.
Second-hand smoking is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, behind active smoking and alcohol abuse.
Although Quinnipiac has prohibited smoking within its dorms since September of 2000, non-smoking students are still subjected to being submerged in a cloud of toxins on their way to class, in the car with their friends or at the local bar.
For some students, second hand smoke is referred to as passive or involuntary smoking. This is just another aspect of living in our addiction-filled society.
“Second-hand smoke doesn’t really bother me much,” said junior Kara Brunelle. “I don’t think it has a great enough effect to do much harm with the amount I am exposed to.”
For other students, however, the ramifications of smoke exposure have a direct impact on their health.
“If I am around cigarette smoke my lungs get tight and I tend to cough a lot,” said sophomore Kayla Robertson. “I can keep coughing for a while afterwards, depending on how long I was around it.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the harm involuntary smoking can cause. EPA called it a serious and substantial health risk for non-smokers, particularly children.
Second-hand smoke is a recognized carcinogen containing 4,000 chemicals, which is an environmental factor that can lead to cancer.
Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke have a 30 percent increase in the risk of lung cancer. Second-hand smoke contributes to 3,000 lung cancer deaths annually among non-smokers.
It is not only the lungs that are affected by these harmful carcinogens. Recent studies from the American Heart Association have found a link between second hand smoke and coronary diseases.
The study said second-hand smoke nearly doubles the risk of having a heart attack, because the chemicals in smoke can directly damage the lining of the arteries.
The University of Michigan found that non-smokers’ blood pressure and heart rate increased while they inhaled second-hand smoke. In some people, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide were found in their blood.
Second-hand smoke can also make those who inhale it, especially children, more vulnerable to illnesses, including bronchitis, pneumonia, the common cold, chronic coughs, ear infections and asthma.
Across the country, state legislators have recognized how lethal passive smoke can be to its victims. California, Utah, Vermont, New York and certain towns in Massachusetts have cleared the air for non-smokers by restricting, and in some cases, banning cigarette smoking from certain public venues.
There is a lot of debate on these laws, concerning whether or not they are infringing upon the rights of the smoker to practice their addiction in public. Some non-smokers will agree that it feels good to be able to breath a little easier.
“I am glad that there are more restrictions on smoking now,” said sophomore Meghan Goodwin. “Second-hand smoke is always in my face, and it’s disgusting.”
Junior Sarah Mitchell feels strongly about the harm that is caused from second-hand smoke.
“Its 4,000 chemicals I don’t need to inhale,” she said.