The University of South Florida declared a tobacco and smoke-free campus on January 4th, 2016 - about two years ago. As many of Bulls know, that is not exactly the case or in which some of us deviate from or prove ignorant to these declarations that are aimed to encourage the health and the wellbeing of the students and faculty of USF.
Though I am very proud of my school to take this initiative and promote the awareness or the need to encourage the adoption of healthy habits, there seems to be a division between that of the “smokers” and the “nonsmokers.”
Despite my rare engagement with cigarettes, my viewpoint has not drastically changed from the time before I had my first cigarette - cigarettes are not the best for you and it would most likely benefit you in the long run to trash the habit altogether. However, I have observed the culture that is derived from the habit. Smoking on campus provides a different meaning than squeezing in a smoke break.
For some people smoking cigarettes is a form of a stress free act and could curve certain feelings like that of depression and anxiety. Others do it socially. Whatever the reason it may be, I am grateful for these spots. I rather enjoy watching people laugh and enjoy themselves. Yes, there is a myriad of other things to get that relief, but I rather there be more smoke breaks than stories of trips to the hospitals. I rather there be coffee breath cigarette talks amongst friendships than surrounding yourself with four cold walls of confinement.
There are cultures that are bursting along the side of USF’s library, on the steps outside of the Social Science building, and benches underneath whistling trees. It is not particularly easy to make new friends or come to a new place entirely and building yourself from what it seems to be the beginning.
USF is a stained glass window of cultures and human beings making this campus a home away from home. Leaving what they know best to pursue an education they believe in. These spots allow for sparks of conversations among people of different backgrounds that have something in common.