Smoking Policy Ignites Campus Controversy

Angelica Fraire

The controversy between smokers and non-smokers on campus, including the college’s faculty and staff, heated up early into the semester.

The campus smoking policy makes it clear that smoking is not permitted in any building on campus, in college-owned or leased facilities, or in college-owned vehicles.

Also, according to Education Code Section 76033 (e.), smoking is not permitted within 20 feet of the entrance to any building or operable window as required by California Government Code 7597. Smoking shall be permitted in outdoor areas unless posted “No Smoking.”

These regulations apply to all students, staff, faculty and the general public.
The GCC Police Department has a map of eight places on campus where smoking is not allowed. These locations are the Milky Way Café, Haz Mat Storage located next to the AT building, outside corridor (vents), Haz Mat Storage located next to the AA building, SM Patio (outdoor food court), Wood Structure (located in the LR building), Wood Structure (located in the SFC building) and the Coffee Cart.

When asked how he feels about the campus police enforcing the smoking policy, Miguel Murillo, 20, said, “Not so good because [the police] are not there to monitor. There should be more people [police officers] patrolling.”

Math Professor Mike Allen said, “It would be good if someone from Campus Police would chime in here and tell us how they [would] help enforce the existing smoking restrictions.”

When asked what he thought about Murillo’s comment, Vice President of Administrative Services Ron Nakasone said, “The police should enforce the [smoking] policy; how they enforce that, it is best to ask the police chief.”

Campus Police Chief Steven P. Wagg didn’t respond to several requests for comment.
There are people on campus who want the current smoking policy reviewed, changed, and enforced.

“Whatever policy we chose, I want to make sure it is effectively enforced, we currently have zones where one may not smoke – some required by law, and others we designated the last time this issue was discussed in the campus governance process. But I think enforcement of the current system is spotty, at best.” Allen said.

Planetarium Administrator and manager Paul Buehler also had a suggestion. “Perhaps it is time to send out a survey to get a better idea of how we feel [about] this growing problem should be handled. I’m in favor of giving smokers places to put out their butts as they enter our campus,” he said.

According to the May 13, 2008 Administrative Affairs minutes, a survey regarding smoking on campus was conducted in March. 2008.
Out of 807 nonsmokers, 87 want to continue designated nonsmoking areas, 326 want to have designated smoking areas, and 394 want to ban smoking. Out of 218 smokers: 113 want to continue designated nonsmoking areas, 87 want to have designated smoking areas, and 18 want to ban smoking. There were a total of 1,025 students surveyed.

Emily Ramos, 24, agreed with other students, faculty and staff about having designated areas for smokers. “I would like designated areas because I don’t know if the person next to me wants me to smoke right next to them or not,” she said.

Nakasone stated that in order to get the current smoking policy changed, the issue would “first have to go through Administrative Affairs and there would have to be a proposal made. Then it would have to go to the committees for review. [here it would be] important for the students on the committee to bring the student’s opinion which will play a great role [in decision making].Then it would go to the Executive Committee.then to the board.”

Each branch has to go through a two process reviews in which each committee has to examine the proposal twice before it can go to the next department where they also have to discuss the issue twice. “Since each committee meets once a month, this would take a period of six months,” Nakasone said.

Even though students, faculty and staff have expressed their concerns about smoking issues on campus, there are many things that need to be discussed. There needs to be a new proposal made before a new smoking policy can be implemented.