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My right to clean air

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Inhaling second-hand smoke, also called “passive smoke” or “environmental tobacco smoke,” may be even more harmful than actually smoking. That’s because the smoke that burns off the end of a cigar or cigarette contains more harmful substances (tar, carbon monoxide, nicotine and others) than the smoke inhaled by the smoker. This is widely known; if you ask someone randomly if inhaling secondhand smoke is bad for them, most people will answer affirmatively.

Yet, at Notre Dame we still allow smoking on campus. At this University renowned for its intelligent inhabitants, we still allow a known poison to be dumped into students’ lungs regardless of how they feel about it. And make no mistake, it is a poison. Cigarette smoke can cause as many, if not more, health problems as smoking. The current Surgeon General’s Report says there is no “safe” level of second-hand smoke. “Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.” (Lung USA.org)

Those who may argue that they have a right to allow this harm to their bodies and disallowing smoking on campus would violate this right. I would answer yes, you do have a right to smoke and cause horrible things to happen to your body. I would continue that I also have a right, a right to personal health. A person smoking on the sidewalk where I need to walk is violating my right to keep myself safe and healthy, by forcing me to either breathe in this harmful smoke or hold my breath (depriving myself of oxygen).

So please, Notre Dame: revoke the privilege of smoking on campus. At least make certain areas designated smoke areas and ban it everywhere else, so those of us who do not wish to encounter second-hand smoke may avoid an unexpected encounter with it. I, for one, do not wish to die of cancer in the future because someone was inconsiderately smoking on the sidewalk where I was breathing.

Brandie Ecker


Pasquerilla West Hall

Sept. 23