Smokers get a reality check

Students know the dangers of smoking, but that doesn't make them quit.

By Heather Harvey

Smoking can cause bad breath, yellow teeth, an empty wallet, and most notably, death. So why are so many students at Fitchburg State College doing it? And how does it affect the members of the student body that do not smoke?
If you look around the campus, you can almost always see students smoking: Some are on benches on the quad, some are walking from one class to the next, and some have just emerged from the dining hall. Others are finishing their last few drags outside of their dorms – but they’re careful to keep their distance from the buildings.
That’s because Fitchburg State recently instituted a rule that smokers must be at least 25 feet from the doors of a dorm to smoke. Most students, smokers and non-smokers alike, believe this to be a good policy.
“I think it is awesome,” a non-smoking Townhouse resident said of the policy. “I hate having to walk through clouds of smoke to get to my place of residence.”
A student who is a smoker said, “I think it’s a fair rule.”  He added, “I think that you should be able to smoke wherever, though, as long as you’re not in someone else’s space, so if it bugs someone they have the option to not be near you.”
Our generation has been adequately advised and educated on the dangers of smoking. We know that it is at the root of countless health problems. Also we understand that if we keep it up long enough, it will kill us. And yet, there is a large population of young Americans that continue to partake in this habit.
Students are hesitant to go on record about their smoking habit, but many were willing to provide some insight into this topic anonymously.
Almost all of the current smokers said they started between the ages of 16 and 18. Many began smoking because their friends were smokers, and they were looking to fit in. “When I was 17, I tried a friend’s [cigarette] and never stopped,” says a senior here at the college. A recent graduate adds, “All of my really good friends smoke, so I started doing it when I was out with them, and then got addicted.”
With new repercussions of smoking emerging every day, and new policies being put in place to make smoking more difficult, do many students regret their decision to start? Surprisingly, many say no.
“I’ve made most of my friends that way, and it’s a good distraction for homework and work and such,” exclaims one student. Even former smokers don’t seem to hold any guilt. “I definitely don’t regret smoking, because everything is a learning experience,” says a recent ex-smoker living in Russell Towers.