During my first year at MU, my consciousness of secondhand smoke has increased significantly. My seemingly arbitrary walk to class has become a battlefield: Me Vs. “the Marlboro Men.” Yesterday, as I walked to class behind two of my enemies smoking, I fought with all my strength to combat their chemical warfare. I held my breath, walked slower and even tried to pass my enemies, but all of this was to no avail. I was forced to breathe the air poisoned with their weapon of mass destruction.
Every single day I am on the losing end of this battle, and I am not alone. According to the American Lung Association almost 50,000 people die every year from illnesses related to secondhand smoke. Around 30percent of college students reported regularly using tobacco products in a study conducted by the Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium. With more than 30,000 students at MU, this equates to around 9,000 students smoking. While treaties have been signed to end the war in restaurants and bars in Columbia, blood is still being shed every day on the sidewalks of our campus. Ninety percent of Missouri residents believe that secondhand smoke is very harmful to their health. VERY HARMFUL.
We, the majority, the silent soldiers, need to refocus our efforts. Instead of passively avoiding the enemy we need to take up arms against allowing smoking on campus. Our weapons are letters to our congressmen, to Chancellor Deaton, and increasing secondhand smoke awareness. Brothers and sisters, take up your arms and fight with me. If not, losing this battle could mean losing our lives.
Ben Pape is currently a sophomore at MU.