Designated smoking areas needed on campus

Natalie Gray

A majority of public buildings in the country, with a few exemptions like casinos, are smoke-free indoors. Seems obvious since the ‘50s when it was acceptable to smoke pretty much anywhere.

The laws of not smoking indoors were created based on health concerns of second-hand smoke. Unfortunately these rules don’t always extend to outdoors.

Sacramento State has signs on the buildings stating people must be at least 20 feet away when smoking. Wow, a whole 20 feet. That must make a huge difference.

Smoking tobacco is an individual choice and should not be made illegal. But there should be designated places at Sacramento State for smoking so those who choose not to partake don’t have to inhale a bunch of poison walking through the quad.

“I believe Sac State should be smoke free because the smoke can pose health risks to certain people with asthma or sensitivities to smoke,” said BMED credential student Keyko Torres.  “Smoking also promotes littering. Going smoke-free would promote a healthier environment and choice.”

Every adult has the right to smoke tobacco, but when expressing the right to pollute his or her own body impedes on the rights of others, something needs to change.

There’s nothing more frustrating than walking to class and being stuck behind someone puffing on a cigarette and getting smoke in your face. Especially frustrating, is these people are disregarding campus policy, which states, “Smoking is prohibited on major walkways throughout campus.”

“I hate walking through smoke to get somewhere,” Torres said. “It’s irritating to my lungs and eyes and is an unnecessary inconvenience and annoyance.”

There are at least 704 smoke-free campuses in the country, according to the American Non-Smokers’ Rights Foundation.

A group of Sac State students brought the proposal of having a smoke-free campus to the Associated Students’ Inc. board earlier in the semester.

“ASI is a shared governance,” said Director of Business Sarkis Piloyan. “Before any policy is implemented, it’s consulted through the committees first.” 

The board of directors for ASI has not taken a position on having a smoke-free campus, but is endorsing a taskforce to evaluate the pros, cons and feasibility of making this policy as well as examine whether Sac State policy is in line with state and federal regulations on smoking.

Something to consider before implementing this policy, is whether it would ostracize students who smoke.

“I believe students should be allowed to smoke on campus,” said senior business major Daniel Oda. “College is a very stressful environment and it’s understandable for a student to want to relieve some stress on campus every once and a while. I myself always find a nice secluded spot to have a smoke.”

Smoking is an addiction and many students may need relief between classes or after an exam. Instead of giving them the boot off campus to enjoy the nicotine fix, small changes could be made to designate smoking areas far from heavy foot traffic. Current policy should also be enforced more strictly.

“ASI wants to appoint a student representative for the taskforce,” Piloyan said. “There will always be a group of the student body that objects to a policy proposal. We want to make absolute sure that every student is represented, before enforcing anything.”

Board members have created the taskforce, but haven’t appointed a student representative yet and are open to any student interested.

Sac State has several policies for smoking on campus as well as consequences for breaking the rules. Unfortunately neither are enforced enough and some students aren’t aware there is a policy on smoking at Sac State.

Campus police and administrators need to realize the severity of this problem, and do more to protect students by strictly enforcing policy on where people can and can’t smoke on campus. There should be a warning for the first offense, and a fine for every offense after.

Students who smoke on main walkways are disturbing others around them and are not in order with campus policy. There’s no excuse for campus security to look the other way on this issue. 

Natalie Gray can be reached at [email protected]