Student health benefits from smoking ban

By Joanne Brown

This week we celebrate the second anniversary of UK’s tobacco-free campus initiative prohibiting the use of all tobacco products — cigarettes, chew, pipes, cigars, snuff, hookah — anyplace on campus.

I love being able to walk around campus in the brisk fall air. But the thing I love the most about our tobacco-free campus is how it is helping students quit smoking and using other tobacco products.

Without the exposure between classes to the trigger of tobacco smoke, students who have struggled to quit are more successful.

Two out of three smokers want to quit and there are resources available on campus to help.

Our culture is changing and more undergraduates are coming to University Health Service for tobacco treatment.  Even social or occasional smokers are impacted.

Every cigarette matters.

The U.S. surgeon general’s 2010 report on “How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease” has some important findings for college students.

Even if you don’t smoke every day, smoking damages your DNA. The report describes in detail how tobacco smoke damages the human body through specific pathways.

The take home points are:

1. There is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke. Any exposure — even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke — is harmful.

2. Damage from tobacco smoke is immediate.

3. Smoking longer means more damage.

4. Cigarettes are designed for addiction.

5. There is no safe cigarette or tobacco product.

6. The only proven strategy for reducing the risk of tobacco-related disease and death is to never smoke, and if you do smoke to quit.