Surveys show: Smoking less popular with adults than in ’60s

ara Pringle

Residence Services’ decision to create “smoking doors” is part of a growing national trend. Cities across the country have been passing laws banning people from smoking inside buildings.

Recently, Kent City Councilman Garret Ferrara proposed a clean indoor air ordinance, banning smoking in all restaurants and bars in the city of Kent. The ban is still in the exploratory stages.

Over the years, it seems smoking has fallen out of fashion.

According to data from an American Cancer Society booklet, 42 percent of adults in 1965 smoked cigarettes. Today, that number hovers around 22 percent nationally. Three separate surveys completed in 2004 concluded that about 30 percent of Kent State students smoke.

While some students may complain about the new change in policy, students were allowed to smoke inside the residence halls as recently as 2002.

Robin Gagnow, associate director of Residence Services, said the change occurred for several reasons. Prior to fall 2002, there were designated smoking wings in all of the residence halls.

“A lot of smokers didn’t want to live in the smoking areas,” Gagnow said. “They wanted to live closer to their non-smoking friends. It became more difficult to fill those places.”

Besides occupancy problems, there were issues about the smoke.

“You can’t get the odor out,” Gagnow said. “It’s absorbed by the carpet and the curtains. It clings to everything.”

Gagnow said it took housekeeping longer to clean the rooms, and it was more expensive. He said the department looked at other options before changing the policy, but the cost of installing smokers’ “cubicles” outside was too high.

“I don’t think it matters,”said Victoria Heart, sophomore health care administration major. “Because when you walk to class, students smoke while walking next to you.”

Data from the Adult Tobacco Survey estimated 23 percent of adults in Portage County smoke. This survey was completed in spring 2004.

“I think most of the changes are a result of increased knowledge about tobacco and its health effects, especially in regards to secondhand smoke,” said Laura Buckeye, director of the Center for Health Promotion through Education. “I also think that younger generations are becoming more vocal in advocating against tobacco.”

Aaron Bohannon, coordinator of the Portage County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, said the number of smoke-free establishments in Portage County is increasing. He said that even if there is a divided section for non-smokers, smoke “doesn’t have a clue where to stay.”

The debate about whether smoking is acceptable is a health issue, not about the rights of the smokers, Bohannon said.

“You’d have to be living under a rock” not to realize the harmful effects of smoking, Bohannon said. “In the media, it’s us versus them, a smokers versus non-smokers situation. I wish it wasn’t.”

Others say smoking has become stigmatized.

“If you look at the numbers, it’s not like the majority of people smoke,” said Alexandra Houser, health promotions coordinator for the American Cancer Society.

Smokers’ rights is an online forum started in 1999 that is designed for people to discuss their views on smoking.

“I believe society has begun to judge smokers more harshly, and I think this is in a large part due to the negative image we’re getting from anti-smoking lobby groups, such as,” said Bill Williams, president and founder of the Web site, in an e-mail.

In the past 20 years, smokers haven’t changed, he said.

“Occasionally, you run into a rude smoker who doesn’t care where he lights up or where he throws his butts, but there are many considerate smoker,” Williams said.

Perhaps smokers’ negative image is from those who unfairly hate smoking and smokers, which could have created the “rebellion against us.”

“The Web site has evolved into more of a pro-smoking support group,” Williams said. “It gives smokers a place to air their grievances and discuss ways to fight back against our societies who unfairly judge us, and our governments who unfairly tax us.”

No more nicotine

In the past decade, there have been many products and methods created to help people quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy products have been among the most popular.

For students on campus who wish to quit smoking, there are many options available. One is the Freshstart program, which is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The cost for students is $5. Faculty, staff and community members pay $10.

Students also can go to the health center and pick up a free Campus Quit Kit, which includes a CD-ROM called Journey of a Lifetime, candy, a booklet and a stress-relief object.

The third option for students is to simply log on to, a Web site designed to help people quit. The site is free to Kent State students.

“Some students are in the contemplation stage where they’re thinking about quitting, but they’re not ready,” said Scott Dotterer, of University Health Services. “We want to let them know that we do have services that are provided for those that want to quit.”

Contact enterprise reporter Tara Pringle at [email protected].