Do you remember those candy cigarettes that were sold in ice cream trucks and toy stores as a child? They came in wrappers that mimicked actual cigarette sticks and resembled genuine cigarette packs. Children would buy them and pretend that the cornstarch residue that let out a “puff” of smoke when they blew on it was the real thing.
It is a psychological fact that children imitate the actions of their parents.
Fast forward to them all grown up and in college, and it seems like students all over campus have spent their lives watching mom and dad go through one carton of Marlboros too many.
While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, the act of lighting up has put a blemish on Glendale’s otherwise sparkling campus.
Call it an “un-beautification” process.
Audrey Bautista, 23, a business major, stated that her father, sister and brother are all smokers. She attributed her first time to curiosity. “My first cigarette was in grade school because I just wanted to try it. I smoke [now] because I got used to it, but I’m not much of a smoker. I started doing it socially at parties three years ago.”
Janice Santa Ana, 22, a nursing student, also started the same way. “I would go to parties and there was always someone there offering a cigarette,” she said. “It wasn’t long before I started buying my own packs and was smoking after meals or my ‘free time’ or just when I was hanging out with a friend.
“Funny thing is, my dad was a smoker. He started smoking at the age of 14 and didn’t stop until I was 7 [years old] . but almost every one of my friends smoke, which is probably the biggest influence that led to my smoking,” said Santa Ana.
It is no surprise that cigarettes can be harmful to one’s health, so much that, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy called for the Surgeon General warning that we see on cigarette packages today.
It warns of the risk of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, birth defects for pregnant mothers, and other diseases.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was implemented this year and requires “the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the impact of labels, labeling, and advertising on consumer behavior in order to reduce the risk of harm and promote understanding of the impact of the product on health.”
According to the legislation, “Tobacco product advertising often misleadingly portrays the use of tobacco as socially acceptable and healthful to minors. It is the foremost preventable cause of premature death in America, and causes over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year, and approximately 8,600,000 Americans have chronic illnesses related to smoking.”
Rosemary Pascual, 24, a nursing student, has also admitted to smoking. “My friends were doing it, and everyone was doing it around me so I wanted to try it. I never really got into it though because of the taste and side effects. I outweighed the good from the bad.”
Santa Ana has recently quit smoking for several reasons: “One, it was too expensive to continue buying packs of cigarettes; two, I read an article on ‘third-hand smoke’ discussing how the smell of cigarette smoke lingering in the car or on my fingers can be harmful to my daughter; lastly, in my anatomy class, we learned how smoking pretty much affects every organ in our bodies whether that be direct or indirect.”
The Surgeon General has also recognized secondhand smoking as an equal threat that carries the same risks as smokers, such as lung cancer and heart disease. Children exposed to second-hand smoke may develop conditions such as asthma, respiratory infections, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The college has even done its share of promoting public safety on campus. GCC’s policy prohibits smoking in any building or within 20 feet of the entrance to any building on campus. Smoking is only allowed on certain outdoor areas where a ‘no smoking’ sign is not posted.
When asked how she felt about the policy, Pascual said “I love it! You can’t stop people from not smoking. They’re going to do it no matter what, so having designated areas is good.”
Still, there are have been many concerns from students and professors alike that question the policy’s enforcement or lack of.
“I didn’t even know there was a policy,” said Audrey Bautista. “I see people smoking everywhere on campus and I thought no-smoking zones didn’t exist here.”
Santa Ana, on the other hand, believes that GCC should take it a step further and make the campus smoke-free. “I know of a few other schools that have taken to this policy.
By prohibiting smoking at GCC, people can walk freely through most parts of campus without inhaling toxins from cigarettes, and hopefully this will encourage smokers to quit,” said Santa Ana.
The city of Glendale has already taken action to become smoke-free by passing an ordinance that went into effect late last year and involves all business, restaurant, and apartment owners throughout Glendale.
The ordinance prevents smoking on city property, such as parks and libraries; on areas of multi-unit apartment housing; on outdoor dining areas of restaurants; on indoor and outdoor areas such as parking lots; and within 20 feet of these areas with the exception of certain smoking zones that each business may designate.
The bottom line is, smoking and the harmful health risks associated with smoking has become such a hot topic that can no longer be ignored.
Even Philip Morris USA, a U.S. tobacco company that manufactures Marlboro cigarettes, has stated on their website: “As of today, there is no cigarette on the market that public health organizations endorse as offering ‘reduced risk.’ If smokers are concerned about the risks of cigarette smoking, the best thing to do is quit.”
Ironic, isn’t it?