Student Health Advisory Committee Backs Smoking Policy

Haiming Jin / The Pioneer

Stephanie Spearman

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Upon reviewing environmental scans and student, faculty and staff surveys, the Student Health Advisory Committee decided that it was time for the current smoking policy on campus to be recognized.

“We’re not trying to ostracize smokers,” said Janice Frias, the advisor for the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). “We just want to increase awareness of the current smoking policy on campus.”

The current smoking policy, which states that smoking is not permitted indoors or within 20 feet of entrances and intake vents, is largely unknown to the campus community, according to the SHAC survey administered last year.

“We want to make sure everyone knows the policy,” said Mike Huynh, chair of SHAC.

After the survey and an environmental scan in which SHAC members observed people on campus to see how often the smoking policy was followed, the committee found that most people on campus were unaware of the smoking policy.

Due to these results, Huynh and his committee decided to “not change the policy, but to educate people on campus about the current policy.”

The first step of SHAC’s implementation strategy? Using painter’s tape to illustrate what 20 feet from the front door looks like.

“We did that two days before school started,” said Aften Pankiewicz, Vice Chair of SHAC. “It helps the campus see what the policy states. It’s a visual aid.”

The committee hopes that the outlines will in fact aid students, faculty, staff and other visitors to the campus in understanding the specifics of the policy.

Another step in educating campus smokers is demonstrating the proper way to use the ‘Aladdin’ cigarette butt disposal containers.

Paired with almost every trashcan and sitting outside of most buildings on campus, these genie lamp-shaped containers are designed for the sole use of throwing away cigarette butts.

“A majority of people don’t know what those are for,” said Frias.

Indeed, passersby have mistaken them for regular trash cans before, which can cause the device not to work. For example, trash can clog the neck of the container making it so that the butts collect at the top.

The basic concept is for lit cigarette butts to fall to the bottom of the container where there is less oxygen so that it naturally goes out.

“If one of them is smoking out the top,” explained Frias, “that means non-cigarette trash was thrown in it prior to a burning cigarette, causing the smoke.”

Proper use is just half the battle with the Aladdin containers— getting smokers to use and notice them is another step.

Overall, SHAC wants to work with smokers on campus to create a more healthful environment for everyone and wishes they could have more feedback.

“So much of what we do affects them,” added Pankiewicz, referring to the smoking community on campus. “We want them to be involved.”

Huynh shares Pankiewicz sentiments. He implores students, faculty and staff to check out SHAC for greater input, whether they smoke or not.

“Ultimately, we want to have a series of focus groups to get their opinion,” said Huynh. “It would be great if we could hear the voice of the smokers as well.”

On November 18, the American Cancer Society annually holds an event called the Great American Smokeout, which encourages people to stop smoking.

SHAC hopes they can use that day to educate the campus about the current smoking policy and the proper use of the Aladdin containers.

“At the Great American Smokeout,” said Huynh, “we hope to reach a larger group of people.”

SHAC is adamant that their main goal is education, but the committee also wants CSU East Bay’s community to know that if they are interested in quitting smoking, resources on campus are available.

“We have smoking cessation programs that are free for students offered at the Sudent Health Center,” explained Frias. “Faculty and staff can contact Human Resources if they are interested in smoking cessation resources.”

So, as a new scholastic year begins, SHAC is eager to work with the campus community to ensure a comfortable environment.

“Basically, we’re here to create a healthy campus for everyone,” said Frias. “That’s what we’re working towards.”