By Kaitlyn Waters, Photographer
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 20.1% of young adults between the ages of 18-24 are current cigarette smokers. Here at Warren Wilson, I’d like to ask the question, how many of your friends smoke cigarettes regularly?
For me, I’d say that between one-third and one-half of my friends visit one of the smoking huts on campus daily to take a few drags before heading off to class or work. What is it about the environment of Warren Wilson that makes the percentage of people who smoke cigarettes higher than the national average? Why would a student body so otherwise concerned about eating organically and being active be engaged with something so deadly? I feel that it has to do a lot with the smoking culture on campus.
At Wilson, it’s tempting to wander over to the smoking hut once you’ve noticed one or two of your friends hanging out there, and once they’ve offered you a cigarette when you’ve got a few minutes before you have to go: why not? Back home, I’d never tried smoking before and never really had the urge to, because it was rare that one of my friends would even pull out a cigarette. Smoking just wasn’t something any of us had ever gotten into. But being here at Wilson and spending a lot of my time around so many people who are comfortable smoking has made me look at it much more casually, and I’ve noticed that each time I smoke cigarettes here, I’m only doing it while I’m around my friends.
While talking with first-year student Lyn May about smoking cigarettes on campus, she told me, “the smoking culture here has definitely made it hard to quit smoking. I notice people at the smoking hut, and if I walk past, I can smell it. I can say, however, that if I didn’t smoke, I don’t think I’d have some of the same conversations that I do.”
I decided to start taking pictures around the smoking hut in order to gain an awareness of the smoking culture that exists on campus and to try to understand the reasons behind why it exists.