Smokers need a place to put their butts

Christina Moran

It’s no secret that smoking is bad. Studies also show that secondhand smoke is even more harmful than first-hand smoke. As a result, more and more restrictions have been placed on when and where smoking is permitted.

While it began small, the ban is now widespread. For example, in the city of El Cajon, a ban is in consideration that would make it illegal to smoke anywhere. In California, it’s illegal to smoke while driving if there’s a minor in the car. In San Diego, all bus and trolley stops have a 25 foot no-smoking perimeter, and if caught smoking, the fine can run up to $150.

Effective Jan. 1, 2007, Mesa became a completely smoke-free campus in an effort to improve the health of all students. However, there is no designated smoking area.

For the most part, smoking students do not observe the ban and continue to smoke in a previously designated smoking area near the cafeteria, leading to the staff parking lot. Campus security asks students to move to the edge of the cliff, which creates a fire danger.

It should be common knowledge that foliage and anything that burns should not go together. If the rain forests in tropical climates can burn, the scrub brush in a desert canyon can flame up in an instant due with a careless flick of a cigarette. Why should smokers be forced to go so far just to take a puff?

While researching the smoking policies at Mesa, the only released reports on the issue date from 2007, with the exception of minutes from several Mesa Academic Summits. The 2006 Mesa College Smoking Policy report, cites several “San Diego Smoke-Free Environments,” such as Petco Park, Del Mar, Calabasas, and several non-specific examples of where you can’t smoke in cities in San Diego County, like beaches, parks, sidewalks, and public transit.

Unfortunately, there are no examples of where in San Diego the aforementioned no smoke zones are, just vague references. Calabasas isn’t even in San Diego, it’s a small town by Santa Maria.

Walking through campus is the occasional smoking student, and very few cigarette butts. In the instances where smoking students were inside the campus perimeter, not one person approached the smoker and requested they put their butt out. Throughout Mesa’s campus, there are very few cigarette butts littering the ground. In the former designated smoking area, there’s a real problem. One faithful smoker pointed out that the problem would be lessened, “if they just gave us an ashtray or two.”

In the P buildings off of Marlesta Drive, there are 2 ashtrays, even though it is a designated part of Mesa’s campus. This hard to reach spot is the only place on-campus where smokers do not have to worry about the health of a non-smoking student next to them or about setting a fire with a stray butt.

Smoking students are being treated unfairly for a habit that they have made the choice to continue with, despite knowing the effects of tobacco smoke. However, in the effort to go smoke-free, smokers have lost the right to their nicotine fix.