Monday, March 23, 2009

The harm it causes...

The harms of secondhand smoke
  • Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.
  • The current Surgeon General’s Report and the CDC have concluded that scientific evidence indicates that there is no-risk free level of exposure to secondhand 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. CDC

The evidence on campus

  • Smoking related litter around campus
  • Individuals who ignore No Smoking signs
  • Smoking receptacles located within close proximity to entrances
  • Condensed areas of smokers (ex: near the library, near dorm entrances)

Student feedback
The following is a letter written to Dean Boswell in regard to secondhand smoke:

I’m a freshman living in ***. My first couple of weeks at Hopkins have been really great, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my classes and the experience of living in a dorm at college. Over the past two weeks, however, I’ve begun to notice something really unpleasant.

As you know, *** is not air-conditioned. This means that almost everyone living in the building has a fan, and most people have been leaving their windows open to try and cope with the heat. I live on the first floor of *** house, and as I sit at my desk attempting to do my homework, it’s very common for a large amount of cigarette smoke to be wafted into my window from the people smoking directly outside it. It gets to the point where the whole room stinks as if someone were smoking in it. I don’t smoke, and I try to avoid breathing in cigarette smoke as much as possible, because I feel it’s thoroughly unhealthy. Even though my roommate and I, and many other people on the first floor of *** are making healthy choices about smoking, we’re being subjected to breathing cigarette smoke against our will.

As a freshman, my small dorm room is the only truly private place that I have to go to here at Hopkins. I think it’s completely unfair that cigarette smoke is being forced upon me while I’m trying to get my work done. With this letter I am urging you to support a ban of smoking in the *** courtyard. I think it would be very reasonable to ask smokers to move [elsewhere] in respect for the other people living in the building. Dorm life is centered around respecting other people, and this ban would help us move one step closer to that achieving that respect.

I know that Hopkins is very supportive of leading a healthy life; please help to support a healthier campus by sparing us the experience of breathing in a bedroom filled with smoke. It will be a challenge to make the entirety of campus smoke free, but banning smoking in the courtyard is an important first step.

Thank you for your time,



  1. I completely agree with that letter from the student. I hate when smokers complain about what an inconvenience it is to have to walk outside to smoke. I'm inconvenience when I have to purposely walk around groups of smokers to avoid their smoke, close my windows to avoid the smell, and hold my breath as I walk behind a smoker to class. The difference is- they actually have a choice. If they want to avoid braving the cold to go smoke, they can choose to quit. I can try to walk away, but sometimes I can't escape it. It's not really my choice to breathe air; it is their decision to make that air unhealthy. I'm not sure I agree with the entire ban, but I am definitely in support of smoking zones- at least that will give me locations to be sure to avoid.

  2. I also agree that there is a smoking problem on campus. It's rediculous that people have no choice but to be exposed to second-hand smoke when they are only trying to walk to class. I particularly support the banning of smoking in areas around the library, Mattin, resident halls, and in general anywhere where smoke can get into buildings.

  3. ban it around freshman dorms. let everything else be.

    why should we all have to change our lifestyles because four buildings on one CORNER of campus are whining

  4. I can understand the problem with the dorms. So to propose for smokers to smoke 10- 20 feet from entrances to buildings is reasonable. However, to ban smoking is infringing on our rights. IT IS OUTDOORS! (this is coming from a non-smoker.)

  5. I think that obviously people smoking outside the dorms should be making an effort not to blow the smoke toward the buildings. If they do that, smoke will not get into the buildings. It's as simple as that. I that this organization's proposed campus wide ban of smoking is not a good idea. The most important problem I see with it is that if you are a freshman who smokes, living in the dorms, and they enact this ban, your shortest walk to have a cigarette would be down on Charles street. It is absolutely ridiculous to ask people to walk that far from there place of residence to have a smoke. It is very easy for people who smoke to try to keep it away from non-smokers. It is also easy for non-smokers to avoid smoke when walking around campus. Non-smokers who want to impose this ban do not understand that it is a very real addiction and both smokers and non-smokers should make an effort at compromising instead of non-smokers telling smokers what they can and cannot do.

  6. Banning individuals who choose to smoke to areas outside of Hopkins' gates poses a risk to students who at 7pm or later need a study/smoke break from whatever school building they were working in. I think that's reason enough to allow students to smoke on campus. A good compromise would be to ban smoking during the day, but allow it between the hours of 4pm - 8am.

  7. I think that you raise a very valid point about the safety of smoking away from buildings at night. That is definitely something that we will consider in the future. Thank you for bringing that issue to our attention. This entire process will depend on compromise so we are very appreciative of your suggestions.

  8. It seems entirely ridiculous to me that someone would freak out about breathing in one tiny puff of cigarette smoke as they walk by someone else on the way to class. That is not the second-hand smoke that kills. If your lungs can't handle that, you won't live too long anyway.



This blog is not meant to be a comprehensive alternative to the formal HKB Smoke-free Campus Policy Proposal. If you would like more information regarding data and research, or to request a copy of the formal proposal in its current state, please do not hesitate to contact HKB at We are more than happy to supply you with any supporting documentation and further explainations.