By Megan Yarbrough
As an alumna of AU and the former president of Colleges Against Cancer at AU, I want to commend AU’s decision to join the list of more than 600 tobacco-free colleges and universities nationwide.
Contrary to what you will undoubtedly hear from opponents of this policy, becoming a tobacco-free environment doesn’t mean “anti-smoker.” It simply means establishing a safe and healthy environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.
The scientific evidence is clear: secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death in those who do not smoke. As a place where students not only learn, but also work and live, AU should constantly be striving to provide safe and healthy environment. AU’s decision to go tobacco-free places the health and safety of its students, faculty, staff and visitors as a top priority.
In addition to establishing a safe and healthy environment, a tobacco-free policy will save money on maintenance, reduce the risk of fires on campus, advance sustainability, avoid potential legal liability from student, employee and visitor exposure to secondhand smoke and increase worker productivity.
As a college that prides itself on being socially responsible, a tobacco-free campus policy is the socially responsible choice. Tobacco has a profound impact on our environment. Additionally, the production of tobacco is a human rights issue. The use of child labor in tobacco production is widespread in the major tobacco-producing countries, and exposure to the chemicals involved in tobacco cultivation poses a considerable risk to both adults and children alike.
Congratulations, AU, on this tremendous and critical step!
Megan Yarbrough is a 2010 alumna of the School of Public Affairs.