Public spaces in Egypt are every non-smokers worst nightmare. If you’re in an open space, chances are there is at least one person smoking around you. Now imagine thousands of teenagers in an open space.

In an effort to become a healthier space for students and faculty, The American University in Cairo (AUC) has announced that by February 2019, there will be absolutely no smoking or tobacco of any kind allowed anywhere on campus. The process to prohibit smoking will start in phases, starting this February there will be designated areas for smoking and all other areas will become strictly smoke-free.

Designated smoking areas in AUC

AUC is one among 2000 campuses worldwide to adopt a smoke-free policy to ensure that their students are safe and healthy.

The decision to go smoke-free was formed by a diverse team of students, faculty, and staff which included smokers and non-smokers. One member of the team, David Folsom, commented that “Everyone has the right to engage in self-destructive behavior, but no one has the right to engage in behavior that harms others.”

Secondhand smoking has become the greater issue here. According to a WHO 2010 report, 600,0000 deaths worldwide every year were due to secondhand smoking. 165 000 of these deaths are among children who suffer from secondhand smoking. The dangers of secondhand smoking are as severe and life-threatening as being the firsthand smoker.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of them are toxic and around 70 of them may cause cancer.

We are very glad that AUC has taken a health-conscious approach to ensure the health and well-being of its students. A safe environment means being able to walk around and not be a victim of secondhand smoking. We hope that the rest of Egypt’s campuses follow in their footsteps!