March 25, 2013

Off Campus: Breathing more easily on Maine's higher education campuses

Banning smoking on all UM System and community college campuses would send a powerful message.

By DAVID E. HARRIS

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L.D. 468 is just an effort by the Legislature and the people of Maine to control their own surroundings rather than ceding control to large corporations that peddle a deadly and addictive product.

n Finally, smoking ban opponents suggest that these bans will be bad for the bottom line of institutions where they are adopted.

This argument has been raised whenever smoking bans have been proposed, both indoors and outdoors. It was raised even when Franklin Memorial Hospital went smoke-free. In reality, smoking bans virtually never hurt business. There are many more nonsmokers than smokers, and nonsmokers appreciate a smoke-free environment.

Taking all Maine's higher education institutions smoke-free would also enhance their effectiveness. Most students come to Maine's public colleges to get an education that they hope will lead to a good job. More and more workplaces are smoke-free, and an increasing number of employers, both in the health care sector and other areas, now refuse to even hire smokers.

Maine's higher education institutions should be doing everything they can to help students who smoke to quit and to discourage students who do not smoke from starting. L.D. 468 will send a powerful message to students that their future success depends on their being tobacco-free.

David E. Harris, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Nursing in Portland.

 

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