Tobacco ban under review at Saddleback College

Signs like this will be seen about Saddleback and Irvine Valley Colleges if the campuses decide to enact a tobacco-free policy. (Elvert Barnes, Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Signs like this will be seen about Saddleback and Irvine Valley Colleges if the campuses decide to enact a tobacco-free policy. (Elvert Barnes, Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College are in the process of drafting a board policy for a tobacco-free campus, including electronic cigarettes.

The tobacco-free policy started as a college recommendation, which Saddleback College President Todd Burnett approved at consultation council on Jan. 28. The policy has no projected implementation date.

Board policy currently follows California state law, which states smoking is permitted 20 feet away from a building’s entrance.

“It’s been talked about on our campus for years. The policy is consistent with the general wave in our state and our nation about smoking,” Burnett said. “Where the process is now is that our representatives and IVC’s (representatives) are going to the district, it’s called the Board Policy and Review Committee. We know it as B-Park,” Burnett said.

Burnett said the college will be drafting a board policy for the South Orange County Community College board of trustee’s review.

Last semester, a three-question student survey was conducted by the Associated Student Government concerning smoking on Saddleback’s campus. The poll resulted in the participation of 1,059 students and results were announced on Dec. 12.

The policy recommendation was originally drafted for designated smoking sections, but changed to create a completely tobacco-free atmosphere.

If the policy passes students will be required to walk off campus to either Marguerite Parkway or Avery Parkway to smoke.

“People with short breaks between classes, they don’t have time to walk all the way down there and come back,” Salim Hawatmeh, a 19-year-old computer programming major said. “I think people will ignore it and just continue to smoke.”

Parking lots will be included in the policy, however students will be able to smoke in their cars.

“It is my understanding that [a car] is your private property and you are in your confines and you are allowed to do that,” Burnett said.

Even with that allowance, the implementation of the policy will be a struggle.

“Regulation and implementation is a whole other challenge…that’s one of the parts and concerns. How do we implement this? We are not the first campus to do this. The entire UC system is tobacco-free and the Cal States are following,” Burnett said.

It is unclear as to what the repercussions will be for students caught smoking on campus.

“I don’t like that (banning electronic cigarettes) because it’s water vapor and it doesn’t affect anyone and if you inhale vapor second hand it doesn’t really do anything,” Katie Meeker, a 19-year-old business major said. “If they searched me I’d be fine with that because I don’t use hash oil. It’d be a little extensive though because you have to go up to everyone to make sure. Usually you need a warrant or cause to search someone. I think people are going to be more stressed out after class.”

David Turney,a 21-year-old engineering major and electronic cigarette smoker, spoke out about implementation.

“I heard about the ban a few months back through word of mouth. I think it’s pretty ridiculous… Some people smoke under the no smoking signs, but it’s pretty rare,” Turney said. “If they are going to be writing tickets for it, it’s just a form of income I think, another way to charge people. If they want to search me I would say they have to go to my rights and get a warrant.”

Burnett discussed some of the positive aspects of going tobacco-free.

“One of the benefits are for people that aren’t smoking is second-hand smoke. Number 2, if we are an institution trying to promote health, it is not a good message being sent. Third is a little bit of environmental stuff,“ Burnett said.

Smoking cessation classes for students have been discussed but not yet implemented. Students may also visit the Health Center for information and help with quitting smoking. Other concerns are a loss of registration numbers and returning students.

“Will students be unhappy about that and choose an institution that is more free on their smoking policies?” Burnett said.

In the event that the tobacco ban seems too stringent it can be revised to accommodate the college’s needs through a board policy review.

“I personally believe that with the banning of tobacco products you are going to start excluding students that smoke on campus, possibly allowing them to go the distance to try to do that and therefore that could get people to do other activities that definitely would not be legal on campus,”  Stefan Huber, a 19-year-old business major said.

“As far as vaping and electronic cigarettes there is a lot of confusion to the mass population about what is in them…they don’t really care what our opinions are about it and that affects the opinion all together of the community,”Huber said.