Smoke-Free Act a breath of fresh air for campus

Lindsey Bennett, Staff Writer

I was taking my friend to return her books at the bookstore late this summer, when lo and behold, a sign is standing right at the entrance declaring the campus smoke- and tobacco free. It’s going to be a serious relief for some of us.

For all my semesters at IVCC, I’ve struggled with an extreme sensitivity to cigarette smoke. I could tell if someone smoked, particularly if they just came from smoking outside. I couldn’t walk around many places outdoors, I couldn’t linger in the parking lot to speak with a friend on their way home. I covered my mouth and nose with my coat in the winter when people would smoke right next to the entrance.

I had good reason to be cautious. I have asthma. I switched sides in classrooms countless times, trying to find a place where I could breathe. It’s hard to focus on classes when you’re trying not to cough obnoxiously in the middle of a lecture. It would just be the cough at first, and a sore throat that lasted the day or two. But longer exposure, particularly after being sick, meant worse symptoms.

Last semester I had an asthma attack in a hallway of Building E. It wasn’t near major enough to require going to emergency care, but I had to go to the doctor right after and get prescribed a new inhaler. I wasn’t thrilled. I haven’t had an attack since 2012, and I hated having the thing and carrying it around all the time. They warned me, multiple times, to be careful to use the right amount as the inhaler itself can kill me if I breathe in too much. I can die if I use it, I can die without it. Up to this point, I had just been careful.

My first week of classes always consisted of me figuring out who just had a smoke break and where they were so I could move away. The problem was, there was usually more than one smoker, and classrooms don’t come with a no-smoking section. I noticed people who smoked in the courtyard during my second semester here, regardless of whether it was allowed or not. In the winter it seemed the designated smoking areas drew closer and closer to the doors, until I had to walk through smoke just to get into the building. I spent a lot of my school year sick, even missing classes on days I was very ill. I just got used to it; I brought cough drops to class and did my best to focus.

Now, seeing that sign and the absence of smoking areas, I am elated! With one in 12 people in the United States suffering from asthma, I can’t be the only one. I wonder how many more people are glad about this change? Restricting cigarette use on campus grounds just ensured we’re going to be able to breathe much more easily.