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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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MSSA has failed students on campus smoking ban

Letter to the Editor - October 16. 2008

Issue date: 10/16/08 Section: Letters to the Editor
I am writing this letter in response to the MSSA's blatant disregard for protecting students' health as evidenced by their current objection to a campus-wide smoking ban.

 I would like to begin by quoting the MSSA's mission statement: "Minnesota State Student Association represents Minnesota State University, Mankato students… through listening to and voicing the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of all students."

 I would assume that since voicing the "thoughts, ideas, and concerns of all students" is not feasible, the MSSA would focus on the concerns of the majority. According to the ACHA-NCHA Minnesota State University Executive Summary of 2007, only 9% of MSU students reported daily use of cigarettes.

 That means that approximately 91% of students on this campus do not smoke on a regular basis.

 Secondly, I would like to refer to the MSU's drug and alcohol policy which states, "Minnesota State University seeks to create a campus environment that promotes healthy, responsible living; affirms civility; supports the well-being of each of its members."

 The policy statement goes on to read, "…to provide the campus community with the information needed to make responsible, healthy choices." Lastly, "Alcohol and other drug use potentially affect the safety, health, and quality of life of all students, staff and faculty and restrict the ability of Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU) to carry out its mission." If the university is to ban alcohol use on campus for these reasons, why not tobacco?

 If the alcohol policy can be enforced, I do not see a reason enforcement of a tobacco policy would be any different. It is really obvious when someone is smoking, and if they know they will be ticketed they will not do it. Does that sound difficult? If someone is standing next to me smoking a cigarette, I am forced to smoke it with them. The definition of harassment is: "to disturb persistently; torment, as with troubles or cares; bother continually; pester; persecute." ( I don't know about the other non-smoking students on campus, but I am "disturbed persistently" and "bothered continually" with being forced to inhale secondhand smoke. The non-smoking entrance effort is the joke, not a policy banning smoking on campus. The smoke-free entrance rule it is not enforced in any way. It rained yesterday. This means that all day long I had to walk through clouds of smoke exhaled by people smoking cigarettes huddling under the eaves of doorways to the buildings in which I had class.

 If it is the mission of MSU to "promote healthy, responsible living, affirm civility, and support the well-being of each of its members," I hope the following facts taken from The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General (2006) will prompt reconsideration of this issue: 1) Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke; 2) Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer; 3) The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; 4) Secondhand smoke is toxic and poisonous.

 The alarming details of this report can be found at Additional information can also be found on the American Lung Association's website ( It seems quite obvious that allowing smoking on campus is in direct opposition to both the MSSA and MSU's missions and policies.

 And even after all this you are still not concerned about the health and well-being of your student body, maybe you will consider the aesthetic impact that smoking has on this campus. Do you honestly think that adding more butt receptacles will beautify this campus? They are disgusting, constantly overflowing with cigarette butts, and even though there are already several on this campus many people do not use them. Wait until the snow melts. You'll see what I mean. The MSSA seems to believe that "pushing smoking to the edge of campus could be potentially dangerous." According to the American Lung Association, "Lung disease is the number three killer in America, responsible for one in six deaths." Which is more dangerous?

 I hope that students and faculty will voice their support of a campus-wide smoking ban, despite the fact that off-campus senator Andrea Buecksler is "so sick of hearing about this topic." Don't let this be the "last discussion on this topic" as MSSA President Ryan Anderson hopes. I would like to ask the MSSA and Minnesota State University Mankato to protect our rights, protect our health, and institute a campus-wide smoking ban.

Kari L. Klingel