Editor, Daily Nexus:

As the Educator and Tobacco Cessation Coordinator at Student Health, I am pleased that the Daily Nexus has set the stage for a dialogue regarding environmental tobacco smoke and how upcoming ordinances will affect students, faculty, staff and visitors at UCSB. Campus Policy 5460 currently permits smoking within five feet of entrances, exits, breezeways and patios of campus buildings, but this is in the process of being extended to 20 or 25 feet. Regulations on outdoor dining areas will continue to require that at least 50 percent of tables be designated as smoke-free.

The purpose of these measures is grounded in more than thirty years of research concerning the detrimental effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Commonly referred to as second-hand smoke, this pollutant is classified as a Group A Carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Research Unit and is believed to kill 53,000 non-smokers each year. Further research conducted by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit and published in the International Journal of Cancer indicates that a non-smoker who lives in a non-smoking home faces a 27% increased risk of developing lung cancer if that person works in an environment where smoking is permitted.

Due to countless studies and dozen s of moving anecdotes, I support the upcoming ordinances whole-heartedly. However, I also think it is necessary for non-smokers to listen to and acknowledge the anger and feelings of ostracism expressed by many smokers. If the right to healthy air is interpreted as a moralistic push to squelch smokers’ rights, then something has clearly gone awry in trying to communicate public health goals. It is the responsibility of everybody to be courteous and respectful of others, smokers and non-smokers alike. For more information on tobacco and health, or to find out when the free cessation support groups meet, please stop by the Health Education department of Student Health, or call 893-7051.