Stop smoking on campus

Erika Bojorquez, Guest columnist

Our school and many others across the nation are in trouble environmentally.

As you may have noticed around campus, students have specific areas where they are allowed to smoke cigarettes — mostly in the parking lots. However, are those cigarettes butts being recycled properly, and if not how is it affecting our campus and our environment?

The Philadelphia Daily News reported, “Some 13 landscapers spend 10 hours a week picking up discarded cigarettes at an estimated cost of $150,000.”

Spending that much money from a school’s tight budget to pick up improperly discarded cigarette butts highlights just how big an issue this might be.

Keeping our school clean and safe is important not just for students and staff, but also for the student-parents who bring their children to daycare in the Child Study Center.

It is important to keep children safe from toxic cigarette butts. Butts carelessly thrown on the ground can be dangerous for children playing outside.

An report from says, “Two separate campus-wide cleanups were conducted by student volunteers at San Diego State University (SDSU) and at University of California San Diego (UCSD). In one hour, 63 volunteers at SDSU collected 23,885 butts, and 17 volunteers at UCSD collected 6,525 cigarette butts. The average number of cigarette butts picked up per individual was 379.1 at SDSU and 383.8 at UCSD.

I have seen lots of cigarette butts littering the LMC campus and even witnessed some students smoking cigarettes in areas where there are “NO SMOKING” signs, including one that reads, “Keep our school beautiful and don’t smoke.”

The article “Tobacco Control” has proposed that “smoke-free policies on campus could have far-reaching effects not only in reducing smoking behavior on campus and ground cleanup costs, but also on the environment.

Campus cigarette waste cleanup can be utilized to call attention to the issue of cigarette butt waste in the environment.”

Reducing smoking on campus is important because here at LMC we also have animals that feed on the grass, exposing them to the toxic cigarette waste, which is unhealthy and sad.

In addition, cigarette butts can cause a fire in less than a minute, threatening the school and the surrounding environment. Cigarette Butt Litter reported that, “according to the National Fire Protection Association, cigarette-caused fires result in more than 1,000 civilian deaths, 3,000 critical injuries (many among firefighters), and $400 million in direct property damage each year.”

Even though LMC has not yet had a damaging fire as a result of smoldering cigarette butts, that fact does not mean it cannot happen in the future.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights more than 1,400 colleges in the United States ban smoking on campus.

The majority of these campuses are completely tobacco-free but students might still feel the need to smoke, regardless of the consequences.

Focusing on the issue of smoking can have a positive effect on those who do light up on campus.

Signs help them remember to recycle their cigarette butts to keep the school beautiful, safe from fire and toxic free. This would benefit everyone who attends, no just the individual.

Schools everywhere should sponsor activities to give smokers information on the results of smoking on themselves and the environment, and tips on how to be environmentally thoughtful if they opt to continue smoking.