Mt. SAC may soon have new restrictions on smoking starting on the upcoming fall semester. The current ban prohibits smoking inside any building on campus and if a student, faculty or staff member wants to smoke a cigarette, it must be 20 feet away from a building entrance. “It is part of a national effort to have healthy practices on campus, and that includes a variety of initiatives. Certainly encouraging people not to smoke, to be healthier, is one of them,” said school president Bill Scroggins.
The new plan proposes getting rid of the 20-foot rule completely and replacing them with designated areas for smokers. Any student, staff or faculty member caught violating the rule could be subject to a $35 fine for the first citation and $70 for the second. “It is sending a message,” Scroggins said. “It lets everyone know this is not an acceptable social practice. An educated person has the knowledge to recognize that. We are encouraging behavioral change to go along with educated decisions.”
The chair of the committee drafting the revisions to smoking regulations is Sandra Samples, director of health services. “This is a nice compromise. Those who smoke would have a place to go. And those who don’t smoke will have less exposure (to secondhand smoke),” Samples said.
Jess Lopez, 20, environmental studies major, disagrees. “I think that having the designated smoking areas sucks. I follow the rules and I don’t smoke next to the buildings, ” he said.
Lopez added that forcing people to smoke in specific smoking areas is unfair. “If you have a certain amount of time between classes and you want to smoke a cigarette, you have to find a designated area,” he said. “What if there isn’t enough time? I don’t think people will follow the rule anyways.”
Some students do not understand why the school has decided to change the ban. “Are we trying to clean up the campus or are we trying to tell people what they should be putting in their bodies?” said Julie Lovich, 22, art major and a nonsmoker.
Others feel that the potential restrictions on smoking areas are unfair to students who smoke. “I feel like they’re going after smokers a lot more these days, especially with the new smoking ban,” said Matt Bissontz, 21. “I see how it benefits nonsmokers, but for smokers, we’re kinda getting tossed out.”
Bissontz added that the current rules are contradictory. “Right now they want you to smoke 20 feet away from an entrance but yet they put the ashtrays right next to the building entrance. Move them 20 feet away. No biggie.”
Christian Estrada, 23, business major approves of the possible changes. “I think smoking is disgusting and I don’t like the smell of smoke in the classroom. I think the fines and designated areas are perfect.”
Jose Montiago, 20, psychology major thinks the fines are too harsh of a punishment. “Money is already hard enough and they’re already raising class fees,” he said. “To get a ticket for smoking when nobody is around is not fair.”
Montiago finds the current rules to be fair, even though he has admitted to not always following them. “I usually follow the 20 foot rule but when I have a class on the third floor of a building I don’t see why I have to go all the way down to smoke a cigarette,” he said. “I usually smoke around the corner and make sure nobody is around. It isn’t like I’m blowing it in their face.”
Anthony Rodriguez, 18, psychology major agrees and thinks that smokers are getting a bad rap. “Smokers aren’t bad people. There are a lot more problems the school should focus on than where people should smoke,” he said. It wasn’t too long ago that everyone was smoking.”
The new restrictions will not go into effect until fall semester. There are many details that still need to be worked out, like how the faculty will get the message out to students, who will be handing out the citations and where these designated areas will be. The current plan calls for installing 12-16 designated areas for anyone on campus who wishes to smoke a cigarette.
If approved, Mt. SAC plans on having an information campaign to let students and faculty
know and prepare for the new changes.
- Tianna Winters