Campus smoking ban on trial period

Ryan Johnson

This semester marks the start of the first full academic year of San Diego City College being a “100% Smoke Free” campus.

The ban implemented on a one-year trial basis, which started during summer session, is the last step in an incremental plan to phase out smoking at City College, according to City College President Terry Burgess.

Up until 2008, City College, which is public property, had a decade-long policy of acting in compliance with the minimum requirements set forth in California Government Code Section 7596(a). This code states, “no public employee or member of the public shall smoke any tobacco product inside a public building, or in an outdoor area within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance, or operable window of a public building, or in a passenger vehicle owned by the state.”

However, a subsection of Code 7596 essentially gives institutions like California community college campuses the ability to create their own policies with regards to smoking.

Instead of taking a “cold turkey” approach to the issue, Burgess said the ban is happening in “stages.”

For instance, during the last academic year, students were able to smoke in parking lots and in designated areas.

“(The ban) seems to be working reasonably well,” Burgess said. “I have witnessed less smoking on campus and groundskeepers have noticed less litter.”

Signs posted on campus warn that police will issue citations for littering if they witness any student not properly disposing cigarette butts.

Burgess did say, however, that “we are not rigorously enforcing (the ban) by means of ticketing.”

Instead, Burgess mentioned that self-policing among students is the best route to take during the trial period, noting students and staff are “generally agreeable (in complying with the ban).

“It’s kind of an honor code,” Burgess explained.

The ban has been met with enthusiasm by many students and staff. Nancy Sickler, senior clerk of Student Health Services, said that there are “a lot of students with breathing issues, so it’s wonderful as far as (they) are concerned.”

There are other people who feel the ban goes too far.

Student Jeremy Moore, who is in his third semester at City College, said he understands smoking is unhealthy, but feels “the college should designate areas for smokers” as a matter of equal rights.

Burgess said he realizes both sides of the debate deserve their voice.

“We will probably do a survey of faculty and staff next spring in order to gauge public opinion.”