By Yvonne England
By Yvonne England
Attention smokers: The Associated Students of Riverside Community College has reassigned the smoking areas on campus.
Student Vice President Eddie Sanchez and Health Services worked with Riverside Community College’s Strategic Planning Committee on the relocation of the designated smoking areas.
Smokers expressed concern for the young Passport to College students who must pass a designated smoking area during their visit of the campus. Sanchez took these concerns to the planning committee which resulted in the addition of eight new locations, until Health Services became involved.
Working together, ASRCC and Health Services agreed upon four total smoking locations. These locations are outside the Cosmetology and Technology B building, by Landis Auditorium and outside the Allan A. Pauw business education building. These areas are located in spots on the outskirts of campus. There are ashtrays and occasionaly benches and shade.
The popular location outside the A.G. Paul Quadrangle is no longer a smoking area. ASRCC and Health Services agreed this location was inconvenient for nonsmokers and visitors.
ASRCC is making signs informing smokers of the changes. They will replace the signs that indicate that RCC is a “Smoke Free Campus.” The new signs read “Smoking in Designated Areas.”
Eric Johnson, a student smoker on campus, feels the “Smoke Free Campus” signs are confusing for visitors when they see people smoking. Visitors don’t know that there are designated smoking areas on campus.
Eric admits that “if I see butts on the ground and I want to smoke, then I start smoking.”
ASRCC is also creating maps of the campus that highlight the four new locations. If these attempts to inform smokers of the changes don’t work, they plan to walk around campus and speak to smokers. ASRCC has no estimated date for the posting of the new signs. With the relocation of the smoking areas there is talk of stricter punishment for violators. Health Services would like there to be a police officer on campus responsible for fining smokers caught smoking outside these areas. If students, staff and faculty smoke in non-designated areas they may incur a fine of $250. Yet Campus Police has no plans to enforce the policy more strictly.
Some students feel fines will have a negative impact on the campus atmosphere. One student smoker feels fines for smoking outside smoking sites may discourage students’ attendance and increase the dropout rate at RCC.
The Health Services staff would like to see RCC smoke free in order to discourage smoking. They made progress toward this goal with an approved ban of cigarette smoking in 2003. Carlos Carrio, a health services educator, said that adding more locations is a backward step in this issue on campus.
According to Lesley Salac, a member of Health Services, their mission on campus is to “keep students healthy.” In order to help smokers quit, Health Services provides quit kits. These kits include literature on the subject, mints and toothpicks. They also provide information on smoking cessation courses, which are similar to AA meetings. Health Services has a smoking counselor available if students want to talk about their habit, as well as a doctor if they are interested in treatment.
Some student smokers feel Health Services’ attempts to help students quit smoking by removing their smoking areas is indirectly removing their smoking rights. One such smoker said, “We’re adults. It’s our choice.”
Regardless of whether Health Services wants to eliminate smoking on campus, there will be four smoking areas at RCC. ASRCC and Health Services reached this decision with a vote of 26-3 and the issue cannot be revisited until February 2006.
So, for the next year, enjoy a campus that gives smokers and nonsmokers alike a little more room to breathe.