I have a confession: for the first three years of my college career, I was an active cigarette smoker. There was nothing more gratifying than a Camel Turkish Silver before a shift in the carpentry shop, after a long shift at work or really just anytime I needed to take a few minutes to breathe. While I’ve been clean for five months now, I can still respect a classy, considerate smoker exercising their right as an adult.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 17 percent of adults from ages 18 to 24 years consider themselves as current cigarette smokers or people who smoke every day. At Southern Miss, there is an active smoking culture and many people who are occasional smokers (the I-only-smoke-when-I-drink excuse).
Most smokers are polite and stick to the predetermined smoking zones. But, there are a few rogues that I would like to address personally, as well as remind all active smokers of the proper etiquette of smoking on campus.
First off, be considerate of nonsmokers. This means don’t smoke in the doorways where nonsmokers have to walk through, don’t walk across campus and smoke and don’t light one up in the areas where nonsmokers congregate, like in the courtyard or the walkway by the Power House.
If a nonsmoker is sitting with you while you are smoking, don’t blow in their face. In fact, if anyone is sitting with you while you are smoking, don’t blow in their face. This is pretty much the first commandment of polite smokers everywhere.
Dawn Kennedy, a senior history and foreign language double major, expressed her disgust with this faux pas. “I’m a smoker, but when people blow in my face, I’m just like ‘Excuse me?’” Kennedy said. “Don’t
Kennedy also shared about how she considers nonsmokers even after she is finished with her cigarette. “(When I go to class) I’ll pop a breath mint or spray some perfume. Don’t be offensive (to your fellow students),” she said.
Joycelyn McDavid, a senior history licensure major, agrees. “Some people are allergic,” she said. “Remember to be respectful.”
While consideration of non-smokers is important, acting neighborly to your fellow smokers is also necessary. Jess Shaidnagle, a senior theatre major, stresses the idea of what she calls cigarette karma. “If someone needs a cigarette, loan them one,” she said. “One day you’re going to need to bum (a cigarette), and it’ll come back to you.” Also, if you borrow someone’s lighter, give it back as soon as you’re finished. It’s common courtesy.
Now that I’ve properly berated the smoking population, I now would like to address the nonsmoking majority. Smokers are adults and can do as they please. Yes, smokers know that smoking isn’t healthy. You know what else isn’t healthy? An addiction to soda, overusing the word “like” and those late night Taco Bell runs.
“If you walk through the smoking area, don’t look at us like we’re demons,” Kennedy said. “Everybody’s got a vice.” Despite the upcoming non-smoking policy that USM plans to adopt, the smoking culture at Southern Miss remains strong. As far as the future goes, some smokers are preparing for the inevitable: a life without that cigarette in between classes or time spent casually smoking with friends.
Until then, stay classy, USM.