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GASP declares victory, lauds 13-year support

To the Editor:

MIT GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) has declared victory, and folded its tent, or at least handed over its infinite corridor display board to the DSA. We thank the MIT community for its overwhelming support in the past thirteen years.

We started in 1972, at a time when there was general smoking in classes and everywhere else by a minority of students and faculty. A petition to President Wiesner for a ban on smoking in class was rejected by a committee on the grounds thay the local laws were not clear. In consequence, we started, with the powerful support of many well known physicians at MIT and the Harvard Medical School, New England Action on Smoking and Health, (later MASH and then MASS GASP), and campaigned for a wide-ranging nonsmoking ordinance, including a provision for no smoking in classes, in Cambridge. The ordinance was passed by the City Council in 1975.

We then found that people in high places were raising the question of whether or not the writ of the Cambridge City Council had validity inside the boundaries of MIT. The Undergraduate Associate offered to put a referendum on the question on the ballot for UAP and VP, and the proposal for a ban on smoking in classes (and certain other places) was overwhelmingly supported. A few weeks later (Feburary 1976) the faculty, following the lead of some concerned smokers, voted<>

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unanimously that the full ordinance should apply at MIT.

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Since then, despite the usual flat-earth forecasts by the tobacco companies that there would be widespread fighting and police in every classroom, the ordinance has been generally observed, and smoking on campus has become a rarity. Hallelujah!

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The last action of MIT GASP was to make a presentation (in 1984) before the Administrative Council asking for the protection of nonsmokers in the workplace, along the lines of rules adopted at Harvard a couple years ago. This also received overwhelming support. VP Constantine Simonides has been charged with putting the policy into effect. Many people are anxiously awaiting its full implementation. Although MIT GASP is no more, its offspring, Massachusetts GASP, is going from strength to strength, and welcomes inquiries, helpers and members: Phone 734-0841.

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I am also happy to try to help in campus cases of problems over second-hand smoke. While some people are lucky enough to be unaffected by smoke, others have severe reactions, and may be misdiagnosed, hospitalized, operated upon and be otherwise subjected to mistreatment, while suffering considerable pain and anguish. (I write from experience.) If you are one of these, don't stand for it! Join GASP!

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David Gordon Wilson->

Prof. of Mechanical Engineering->

Member of MIT GASP->