The Cloud That Covers Menlo

Cigarette on the ground

Photo by David Laflamme

By Nataly Vuong-

What do you smell when you walk out of Brawner Hall? Smoke. A lot of smoke. To a non-smoker like me, walking out of Brawner Hall is like walking into a casino in Las Vegas. Immediately after I walk out the doors of Brawner and enter the Menlo Quad, the smell of the cigarettes sets off a stinging sensation in my lungs. I am unable to hold my breath and am forced to allow the thick, cloudy air to enter my lungs, coating them with blackness. When you leave Brawner, or any other building on the Menlo campus, there is always someone smoking a cigarette or other smoking device. Menlo College is covered by a cloud, a cloud that enters each and every one of our bodies.

Menlo College is located in Atherton, CA. It is a town that promotes being environmentally friendly and health-conscious. Having lived in Atherton for seven years, I assumed Menlo College was going to be the same. Other campuses in the area such as Menlo-Atherton High School, De Anza, and Cañada College, have a smoke-free campus or designated smoking areas away from the buildings. However, Menlo College does not. When I first walked onto campus, I immediately recognized how close the people smoking were in relation to  the front door of the building.

I soon realized that Menlo does have designated areas where people cannot smoke. In fact the official campus policy is that people are only allowed to smoke 20 feet away from the buildings. So why are students smoking so close to the buildings?  They do not follow the policy because Menlo does not enforce it and there are no designated areas to show the students how far 20 feet is from the buildings. The students inability to follow the policy is not their fault; it is because Menlo College does not put any effort into enforcing an issue that affects each and every one of us on campus.

When students walk on campus, they should not have to walk past areas where people are smoking. Smoke can cause serious health issues and affect people with breathing problems, such as asthma or sinusitis. One Menlo student said, “Because of the lack of non-smoking areas on campus, there is smoke everywhere during lunch and in between classes. This is a problem for me as a non-smoker attempting to avoid the dangers of tobacco.” Barry Groveman, the former mayor of Calabasas, CA discussed an anti-smoking law and said, “[it] does not ban cigarettes, [it] limits public exposure to secondhand smoke.” People should not be subjected to negative health issues based on the decision of someone else.

In order to help better this complicated situation, one step that could help us become a healthier and eco-friendly campus would be to assign designated smoking areas in the Menlo Quad. If there are assigned areas, smokers can smoke as much as they want without disrupting people and polluting the air directly around the buildings on campus. Designated smoking areas will help Menlo become more of a Smoke-Free campus without completely taking away the students’ right to smoke.