There’s nothing quite like a stroll through the University of Montana campus on a nice day. And there’s nothing like a cloud of cigarette smoke to ruin it.


I remember getting caught behind a passing-period puffer many a time at UM. Despite my unnecessarily loud coughing — an indirect way of showing that I was obviously perturbed — the guilty party usually carried on unaffected, completely oblivious to the fact that they were pumping airborne carcinogens directly into my lungs.


I usually resorted to power-walking/jogging a few steps to put myself a safe distance ahead of them, but even that was difficult in crowded areas, especially with all of the reckless bikers zooming through campus. (Which, by the way, is a whole other issue for a whole other post.)


It was a small annoyance, but as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was sick of breathing in second-hand smoke on my way to class.


A few months after I graduated, the university adopted a tobacco-free campus initiative. The ban went into effect at the beginning of this school year, despite several complaints from students who felt the policy represented a violation of their personal freedoms. I remember all kinds of angry Facebook posts and letters to the editor.


I kind of forgot about UM’s tobacco ban until a few days ago, when I saw a story about it in the “Missoulian.” According to the article, the campus public safety office has received only about 20 complaints of smoking on campus since August. I don’t know if that means people are complying with the new policy or just not concerned enough to tattle on those who aren’t.


What I do know is that I’ve passed through campus several times in the last couple of months, and I can’t recall a single instance of being trapped behind a trail of smoke.


Although I’m sure there will always be a few people who ignore the policy, I think it promotes a much healthier (and quieter, sans my coughing melodrama) campus.


Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.