Riggs Backs New Smoking Policy

Chantal Bevard, Managing Editor

The battle over whether or not to make Glendale Community College a non-smoking campus has been brewing since 2010; now Interim Superintendent/President Jim Riggs is urging not only the campus, but also the district, to become completely smoke-free.

In a letter addressed to the GCC community, Riggs listed a number of issues he believes should be dealt with before he leaves this summer. Although his first priority is to work to try and fix “the college’s structural fiscal deficit,” Riggs stated that the community needs to, “Implement a district-wide non-smoking policy at the start of the Fall 2013 semester.”

The district’s smoking policy currently states that smoking is allowed only in designated areas and that violators will be cited accordingly.

Riggs said that the current policy is hard to enforce and still isn’t an effective solution. “The college has such small acreage for our large population,” Riggs said in an interview. “Because of the dense architecture, it is not feasible to isolate smoking areas that won’t affect other people who don’t want to be around smoke.”

According to a November 2012 survey conducted by Administrative Affairs, 68 percent of students, faculty and staff surveyed prefer a non-smoking campus to the 32 percent of students, faculty and staff that prefer the designated smoking areas.

The non-smoking policy needs to pass through a series of committees before it can be implemented, according to Riggs. It has been approved in Administrative Affairs and is currently under review in the Campus Executive. If approved in Campus Executive, the policy will continue on to the board of trustees where the board can adopt, amend or not adopt the non-smoking policy.

Riggs said that most people who are opposed to the outright ban on smoking throughout the district oppose because they feel that the current smoking policy hasn’t had enough time to be effective.

Although the currently designated smoking areas were adopted in 2010, the GCC Police Department did not have any way of enforcing the policy.

“Prior to the current semester we provided education to persons who were smoking in non-designated areas,” Police Chief Gary Montecuollo said. “This included warnings against smoking where it was not allowed as well as warnings and citations for littering.”

However, this semester the police department can now issue citations for smoking in non-designated areas. The cost of a smoking citation is $100. As of March 1, the department had issued 17 citations for smoking in non-designated areas.

While there is a resource management portion to having a non-smoking district, the main goal to ban smoking is to create a healthier district. “People have a right to smoke, but people also have a right to have a healthy work environment,” Riggs said.

He went on to explain that there has been much discussion on the smoking policy and that the events concerning smoking on a national, state and regional level have influenced his decision to push for a non-smoking district. “As a society, we have decided that [health and non-smoking] takes precedent,” Riggs said.

“It is in the best interest of anyone, from a health standpoint, that we need to move to be a non-smoking campus,” psychology department chairperson Jessica Gillooly said.

Gillooly has been pushing to be a non-smoking campus for years. She said that she will continue to work for a non-smoking campus while the proposed policy is being reviewed. During Gillooly’s push to eliminate smoking on campus, she has worked towards helping current smokers quit in a number of ways, one by paying to educate some of her students on how to stop the addiction.

Although the majority of the district wants to have a non-smoking district, it is not unanimous.

According to Riggs, the district may become a non-smoking district as early as later this month, but will not start to enforce the policy until Fall 2013. Montecuollo said that the department would be ready to enforce the non-smoking policy next semester, if the board of trustees adopts it.