Northern Michigan University is looking to its students, faculty and staff to answer a question that's long been asked on campus: Should the university go tobacco-free?
It's a topic that comes to the forefront every few years at Northern, and we think it's time to put this debate to rest.
Making the move to a tobacco-free campus is a long overdue change for the university.
The city of Marquette has already imposed smoking bans in public establishments, which is evident every Friday night by the huddled groups of smokers standing outside bars and restaurants.
It may be inconvenient for smokers, who are finding fewer and fewer places outside their homes to smoke but it was a wise move by the city and would be equally wise by the university.
As the health risks of smoking - and of second-hand smoke - become more prevalent, less people are willing to put up with it. It's no longer an issue of convenience, of not liking the smell of stale cigarette on your clothes after spending a couple of hours at the bar. Now it's a health issue and a serious one at that.
According to the American Lung Association, smoking contributes to 80 percent and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and men, respectively.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and, according to the ALA, roughly 160,000 Americans died of lung cancer in 2012. That's more than the number who died from colon, breast and prostate cancer combined.
While smoking is not the only cause of lung cancer, it is easily the most preventable way to contract this deadly disease.
NMU sent out a survey through its email system Monday asking for input on a potential tobacco ban on campus. Responses must be returned by Sunday.
It's high time NMU follow the path of other Upper Michigan universities before it and tell smokers its time to take their habit somewhere else.
We hope Northern's students, faculty and staff feel the same way.