After a year in effect, SPSCC’s smoking ban continues to cause contriversy among students and staff.
This policy was put into action fall quarter 2011 after several years of careful deliberation that began in 2007. One of the final steps of the process was a school wide survey conducted in 2010, resulting in a majority vote for a tobacco free campus.
The policy prohibits the use of any tobacco products or electronic smoking devices. The only exception is the allowance for students and staff to use these products while inside personal vehicles parked on campus. Though some benefit from this option, students and staff who use public transportation to and from the school must leave campus completely before using the banned products.
One of the main aspects of the policy highlights an overall health benefit: “The Board of Trustees intends to create a working and learning environment on campus that promotes the health and well-being of both college staff and students.”
Professor Caprice Paduano of Early Childhood Education explained that since the campus became tobacco free, several students have shared with her their decisions to either quit smoking or cut back significantly.
Paduano said she voted in favor of the ban in 2010 because, “our campus is a state agency and should therefore be smoke free as all state facilities are.” According to Paduano the policy has practical advantages as well, such as the ability to open classroom windows without inviting smoke inside.
Though many agree the smoking ban has been a constructive development, some view the policy change as a bit drastic.
Student David Dahlberg does not see the necessity of banning smoking from all areas on campus. “As a smoker, I know it’s a terrible habit…I understand why people wouldn’t want to deal with smoke clouds everywhere and the dangers of secondhand smoke,” he said.
Instead of having a campus wide ban, limit smoking to primarily low traffic areas and parking lots, he said. He believes that this would be the best way to “keep us smokers, and the rest of the student body happy with the school.”
According to Paduano, the only problem with the ban is the lack of accountability with enforcement. When the policy was established, students were advised to politely ask violators to leave the campus. However, said Paduano “when told of the issue they can get a little mad.”
The official position of campus security involves a two step process to combat those who ignore the smoking ban.
According to Program Coordinator, Arlene Cook, a security officer will first inform the offender of the college’s policy. This, she said, is to compensate for the possibility that the smoker may be a new student or a visitor who is unaware of the ban. The officer will also report the offense to the security desk to record the offense.
According to Cook some are defiant against the ban and continue to smoke on campus. “We know where they hide,” said Cook. The most popular smoking spots are along the paths through the trees, especially on the Artists’ Bridge. If a student commits a second offense, they are then reported to Vice President, Rhonda Coats, who determines the appropriate action to take.
Since the ban began, students have been congregating outside of the fence near the residential area. Cook said that sometimes a nearby resident comes out to smoke with the students. This solution complies perfectly within the rules.
According to Cook, the ban isn’t meant be a hassle. It is only the result of several years of student-initiated work.