Smoking ban goes campus wide
September 26, 2006
Filed under News
If you’ve ever been sitting on campus, enjoying a snack, and out of nowhere get a whiff of cigarette smoke that destroys your appetite, your problem may be solved.
San Diego Mesa College has jumped on the bandwagon along with other community colleges around California by implementing a transition to a smoke-free campus. Smokers will now be asked to limit their smoking to one of the seven designated smoking areas located around the campus.
“We’ve had a drastic decrease in smokers on campus,” said Suzanne Khambata, Director of Health Services at Mesa College. “Our goal was to have 50 percent fewer smokers on campus this semester, and we have far surpassed our goal. We actually go to the smoking areas and count the number of smokers and are very pleased with the results.”
These smoking areas have been carefully selected, and they include: the entrance to the H-Lot; the “A” overflow parking lot across the street from the “A” building; the grass area at the end of A-Lot by G-100; the concrete pad next to the tennis courts; Lot 1 east of the I-400 building next to staff parking; outside of Lot 2 by the light pole; and at the newly added Z-Building, just off campus.
Khambata stated that areas were hand selected based on surveys, the amount of smokers already in the area, interference with police or fire department regulations, facility convenience, and accessibility.
The new regulations are due to the recent grading of the campus’ tobacco policies conducted by the American Lung Association. Mesa College earned a grade of “F” in the spring semester of 2005 for its smoking policies and knew that changes needed to be made.
Criteria of the grading included: the promotion of tobacco; the sale of tobacco; smoking cessation (termination); campus rules, regulations, and policies; and the implementation and enforcement of these rules. Mesa did not score well in any of these categories.
However, after making some adjustments to policies and enforcement, the school has come back with a grade of “B” in the fall of 2006. The college hopes to ace its next grading by implementing the new smoke-free campus. The goal is to become 100 percent smoke-free by January of 2007.
How will these policies be enforced? The school is asking that the Mesa community adhere to the new policy based upon the honor code and aid from others. The option to set a fine was available, but the Smoking Investigation Committee (SIC) opted for a different approach, hoping that others would respect the wishes of those who do not want to be constantly subjected to second-hand smoke.
“I don’t like the fact that I have to be the one who has to dodge smokers walking on the walkways and walk through the grass out of my way for them,” Maricel Ramirez, a student at Mesa College, wrote in a letter to Health Services last spring after having an acute asthma attack due to second-hand smoke exposure under a covered area. “I can’t enjoy a bench, a tree, or the walk on the long stairways without the contact of cigarette smoke.”
The SIC is a committee that looks into how smoking is affecting everyday life on campus. Instead of going straight into a smoke-free campus, which very well could have been the case, the SIC chose a more realistic approach by giving smokers a span of six months to get used to, and adapt to, the policy.
Mesa is not the first school in the city to put restrictions on lighting up. Point Loma Nazarene College is now 100 percent smoke-free, Miramar College has smoking designated areas, and San Diego City College has designated non-smoking areas.
In addition to giving smokers this six month grace period, the SIC is also hoping that it will encourage those who do smoke to quit. There are numerous help seminars and groups that one can join to get help quitting smoking.
For more information about this topic or to get involved, Khambata encourages students to contact her at 619-388-2774 or go to www.sdmesa.net/health-services.
“And remember,” Khambata said, “it’s not about the smokers, it’s about the non-smokers right to clean air.”