Students snub smoke-free campus

James Lim

Brittany Wiczek

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While many people have seen the non-smoking signs posted around campus, it hasn’t stopped the growing number of students who still choose to partake in on-campus smoking.

Stairwells, less crowded corridors, and even an area in the parking lot near the cafeteria have all become undesignated havens for campus smokers. While some may assume that their discretion has heeded little uproar from the faculty and staff, Health Services has made it a priority this semester to put a stop to the disregard for campus policy.

Beginning the first day of this spring semester, health service representatives could be seen posting new signs and leaving baskets of candy and informative anti-smoking cards in the areas frequented by school smokers.

While hopes were high for a positive outcome to this tactic, Polly Rose, a registered nurse and community educator for Health Services said that little has changed.

“Smokers are not complying,” Rose said. “The students have been tearing down the signs, and ignoring the faculty’s request to take their smoking off-campus.”

While the mission statement of the “Healthy Campus 2007 Act” states that the decision for a
smoke-free campus is due to “the health related problems associated with second-hand smoke” Rose said this is not the only concerning issue. The litter caused by discarded cigarette butts is forcing the custodial department to focus it’s attention on the “smoking areas” as opposed to the rest of the campus.

“It is costing the school money to pay me to put up these signs repeatedly, when I could be working on other important issues on campus,” said Rose.

While these issues may be of valid concern, the reaction from some student smokers has not been fully sympathetic.

“I don’t have a problem not smoking everywhere on campus, but I think its unfair for them to not let us have at least one smoking area with ash trays so we could dispose of our cigarettes properly,” said Mitch Arbol, a second year student at Mesa.

hen asked why he, like many other students, refused to stop smoking after being confronted by a faculty member in the school parking lot, he said, “Based on the perimeters shown in the school catalog, I’m not technically breaking any rules.”

In fact, this was a statement made by many of the students questioned about their on-campus smoking habits, and based on the clearly stated “smoke-free” perimeter in the printed and online catalog, they are right.

“The catalog is incorrect,” said Rose when questioned about the stated perimeter. According to Rose, the only places that the students can technically smoke are in the canyon adjacent to the school, which is not advised due to the fire hazard, and in your car, off campus.

The Associated Student Government, or ASG, led the student campaign for a smoke-free campus and agreed upon the perimeter that it would entail. According to Health Services, it is the responsibility of the ASG to petition for the necessary changes to be made to the currently stated perimeter.

“The perimeter in the catalog doesn’t reflect the updated non-smoking perimeter, because the catalogs were printed last year,” said Bahawa Nimaga, ASG Vice President. Nimaga said there are no current plans to revise the catalog.

While it seems like little movement is being made to resolve this issue, ideas are being formulated.

“Maybe the smokers wouldn’t have to hide in the stairwells and parking lots if they just made a certain smoking area for them. As a non-smoker, I feel like that seems fair for all students,” said Janet Potenza, a first year student.

While other San Diego schools like Grossmont Community College have created designated smoking areas for students, it would be up to the ASG to petition for the revision to the current policy.

Rose said one idea is a student led anti-smoking support group. “The belief is that the students are mature enough to uphold the laws set by their peers,” said Rose, who maintains that continuing the non-smoking campaign is the best approach.

The one thing that is certain is that the current situation isn’t working.

“If the students want change, they should bring it up with the ASG,” said Rose, ” and if the smokers want a place to smoke, they need to fight for it.”

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