The Butt-Huts. These little glass-walled hubs make up an underground social-network that extends across Bellevue College. Students gather in these makeshift lounges to talk about music, gripe about work-loads and exchange all manner of ideas, creating the kind of diverse, transactional atmosphere that our college’s guiding principles encourage. Perhaps then, some would see it as unfortunate that it’s cigarettes which are bringing these students together. But like it or not, some students are going to smoke. I’m certainly not naïve enough to champion an outright ban on smoking here on campus. Rather, the issue this writer takes is with how students choose to smoke.
Some students who know me to be an ex-smoker might think that this piece is hypocritical. I also realize the risk I run, being forever blacklisted as a “buzz-kill” from certain hacky-sack circles. But as time passes since I’ve kicked the habit, I’ve found that I too have become one of those pesky squares who just can’t stand cigarette smoke, perhaps out of jealousy. Let me be clear on that last point: If you are considering quitting, I strongly encourage you to do so, even if it takes a thousand times. For me, I knew the turning point in the war was when, in one of my many dreams about smoking that I experienced while quitting, I actually turned down a cigarette offered to me by a dream character, saying imperiously, “I don’t smoke.” But I digress.
The big, contentious question I’m trying to address here is this: Do we have the right to smoke? Mounting scientific studies documenting the harmful effects of second-hand smoke would lead me to conclude that, while we do have the right to do to our bodies what we will (within the bounds of the law), we do not have the right to expose people to airborne carcinogens.
I see smoking in public as more of a privilege and one that should be respected. Most of the smoking huts are at a reasonable distance from the main campus. But I believe the two directly behind the cafeteria are too close. One a breezy day cigarette smoke comes wafting down the hall towards the fountain, up the spiral stairs to the Academic Success Center and diffusing around the entrance to the Student Union. This particular hall is one of the busiest arteries on campus with students coming and going from tutoring, lunching, counseling and writing Op-Ed pieces for the school paper. The constant odor of smoke in this frequented corridor is well, unpleasant and scientifically documented to be unhealthy. I propose these two be closed and that their displaced puffers make the arduous trek to the C Building, or A Building, or any of the many butt-huts that don’t butt in on clean air-space.
Litter at all the huts is as baffling as it is concerning. Scores of stamped-out butts laying next to an ashcan or trash receptacle is a common sight, particularly in front of the L Building, where a pile of butts sprawl out on the pavement, a good distance from the hut itself. I am reluctant to remind college-age individuals of the merits of disposing of one’s waste as opposed to dropping it on the ground, but with the almost comic sight of so much litter literally littered about a garbage can, I’ll do it. Pick it up and throw it out!
Smoking is a personal choice and being allowed to make that choice here at BC is a privilege. Adult students who choose to smoke should do so responsibly; by considering those around them and cleaning up after themselves. I understand that smokers today feel increasingly alienated and persecuted by non-smokers, especially in newer urban areas (notice how much a smoker stands out in downtown Bellevue as opposed to say, Capitol Hill), but with a visible show of appreciation for this privilege by being clean and considerate when smoking in public, I see no reason for further issue.