Are Students Health Being Ignored?

Are smokers posing a risk to others health?

By: Christine Martinsky

If you can’t get fresh air outside, where can you get it?  This is the question that is posed to many students every day at California University of Pennsylvania. On a daily basis, non-smokers must walk through toxic clouds of tar and chemicals on their way to class or activities and it doesn’t seem like things are going to change anytime in the near future.

Despite the debates about smoking, there’s no way around the fact that smoking is bad for you. According to MedlinePlus, cigarette smoking causes 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, as well as many other cancers and health problems which include lung disease, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, and cataracts.

But this is just the beginning; consider the damage the actions are doing to non-participants. According to, secondhand smoke, or environmental tobacco smoke, which contains thousands of toxic chemicals like benzene, carbon monoxide, nickel, lead, and formaldehyde can linger in the air for hours. Third hand smoke, the residue that clings to a smoker’s clothes, hair, etc also pose a risk.

The risks of secondhand smoke continue, and sound nearly as dangerous as smoking itself; with the individual being at jeopardy of getting lung disease, heart disease, and cancer (Mayoclinic).

According to Dr. Jennifer Preiss, doctor of internal medicine and pediatrics and lead physician at Green Tree Medical Associates, people who are exposed to smokers on a regular basis, such as those on campus, are at risk of developing asthma, chronic sinus infections, hoarseness, and laryngitis. When asked if she thought young adults smoked because they didn’t think it harmed them, she replied “Absolutely. The longer they smoke, the more danger they’re in of developing lung cancer and heart disease”.

So what is Cal U doing to protect its students? In 2008 there was a discussion about California University’s smoking policy as a result of the Pennsylvania legislature passing a Clean Indoor Act. According to Associate Dean for Student Conduct Jim Pflugh, the initial system-wide decision was that the act required all 14 PASSHE campuses to be completely smoke free but further analysis of the act and discussions with the various employee unions lead to this decision being modified with only buildings being required to be smoke-free.

“Following the final analysis, California University applied the smoke-free status to all university buildings, some of which had previously allowed smoking or were only partially smoke-free, Pflugh said.” Normally, changes to any university policy can be recommended by the University Forum to the President and would ultimately have to be approved by the Council of Trustees. This change was implemented slightly differently since it was mandated by a new state law,” Pflugh said.

Pflugh added if someone encounters an individual smoking in a building, they can file a complaint against the individual. If the individual is a student, they may file it through Pflugh’s office, Student Conduct. Complaints against professional employees should be directed toward to the employees’ immediate superior or supervisor.

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