Students Must Voice Opinion on Campus Smoking

Mohamed Sirker

The current smoking policy on our campus is not working.

Most people don’t know what the policy is; meanwhile, police and security are not enforcing it. This results in a campus where second-hand smoke is prominent, despite the fact that a school wide survey by the Student Health Advisory Committee shows that most CSU East Bay students do not smoke.

But there is an upcoming chance for a democratic and fair change for both smokers and non-smokers on campus, if students decide to voice their opinions at future community forums.

The Student Health Advisory Committee is a group of students, faculty and staff that is dedicated to educating CSUEB students about living healthy lifestyles and informing them about services available on campus.

The committee’s survey also found that many students, staff and faculty are aware CSUEB has a smoking policy but don’t know what it is.

The current smoking policy states, “smoking will not be permitted within 20 feet of doorways and ground level air intake structures. All ashtrays and other appropriate smoking letter appliances will be provided and placed on the exterior premises of buildings on campus pursuant to the 20 feet requirement.”

According to University Police Department (UPD) Chief of Police James C. Hodges, catching cigarette-smoking violators is “not on top of the priority list.” He said they hope for people to comply; however, they have never issued a citation for a smoking violation.

“We’re not the nicotine Nazis,” said Hodges, adding he himself avoids areas where people are smoking.

If UPD are not enforcing this rule, and students are not respecting the policy, there is virtually no policy. This policy has no teeth to it and as such needs to be modified.

Jennifer Miranda, manager of the Health and Wellness center said she has received complaints by students and faculty regarding smoking on campus.

“There are a lot of areas where people currently smoke where they are not supposed to,” said Miranda, such as the library courtyard and in front of Meiklejohn Hall.

Complaints not only address second-hand smoke, but also include heavy littering of cigarette butts, packs and lighters.

“We picked up approximately 9,600 cigarette butts in four hours with only 40 volunteers,” said Miranda.

However, there is hope to improve our present situation in a democratic process that will take both smokers and non-smokers into equal consideration. According to Miranda, community forums will be held on campus where students and faculty will be able to voice their opinions about a new smoking policy. Nonetheless, a date is yet to be confirmed.

One of the options proposed is to implement designated smoking areas. Location is being carefully considered in order to make it convenient for students and employees who smoke.

A vast majority of students expressed to The Pioneer they would be in favor of implementing clearly marked designated smoking areas on campus, of which both smokers and non-smokers agreed.

These forums will need both smokers and non-smokers, who are student, faculty and staff, to come together to decide the future of our smoking policy on campus.

Enforcement options will also be an important issue, as we must decide appropriate consequences for smoking policy violations that will be easier to enforce so the freedom of both smokers and non-smokers can be respected.

However, students must come forth and voice their opinions. “One of the biggest voices we need is students’; students to say this is a problem, get involved and take ownership,” said Miranda.

Once these forums are held, students need to show up and demand for their voices to be heard and for their rights to smoke or not smoke be respected.

One of the biggest gifts we have is our right to speech, thus students should be active in this issue.