President’s tobacco taskforce wants smoke-free campus in 2014


Sac State students spent four hours collecting tobacco waste and hauled in 8,929 pieces of waste.

State Hornet Staff

Having to walk through carcinogen-filled cigarette smoke while headed to class is an unpleasant experience for senior health science major Eric Kenoyer.

“For our campus, going tobacco-free and smoke-free (would promote) a cleaner environment and is pro-health,” Kenoyer said. “It’s not only healthy for the person who is smoking, but it’s healthy for the people that are around you.”

Kenoyer is one of two student representatives on the Campus Policy Tobacco Task Force, a committee created by Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez last spring.

The committee’s mission is to review the current smoking policy as well as recommend potential alternatives, including whether to create a tobacco-free or smoke-free campus.

“I created the tobacco task force in response to requests that the campus policy on tobacco use be changed,” Gonzalez said. “The group is made up of students, faculty and staff, and I have asked them to examine all aspects of the policy before making recommendations about any possible changes.”

A resolution passed by the Faculty Senate last March recommended Gonzalez create the task force after three health science students from the Public Health Club – Harit Agroia, Emily Aguirre and Katie Magnuson – gave a presentation at a Faculty Senate meeting last February.

While the students requested the campus become tobacco-free by fall 2014, the senate recommended the creation of the task force to revise and improve clarity of the current policy, facilitate compliance and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

“(The task force is) in the process of coming up with a recommendation for President Gonzalez,” said senior health science major and current Public Health Club President Audrey Abadilla. “What goes on in the rest of our task force meetings will be deciding what exactly we would like him to do or the recommendation we would like him to consider.”

Kenoyer and Abadilla are members of the Campus Policy Tobacco Task Force and interns for the Sacramento County Tobacco Education Program. They said the task force is gathering all ideas and information to make a “proper and educated decision.”

“The tobacco-free campaign initially started from students voicing concerns about the current policy and hoping the school would consider adopting a different policy that would better suit all the students, faculty, staff and administration,” Abadilla said.

Implemented in 2003 and updated in 2008, Sac State’s current policy prohibits smoking within 20 feet of doorways and buildings, major walkways and stadiums. The policy also states offenses committed by students would be addressed by Student Affairs.

But Kenoyer said the current smoking policy is ambiguous, unclear and indirect because it is not enforced and fails to clearly define what is considered to be a major walkway.

“(By) having a policy that was put in place 10 years ago now, it’s only time to relook at what you’ve done and make a progressive step to something stronger,” Kenoyer said.

University of California schools will become tobacco-free by 2014, and will prohibit smoking and chewing tobacco anywhere on its campuses, including parking lots and private residential space.

CSU Fullerton will also become the first school in the CSU system to become a smoke-free campus, effective August 2013.

“I’d like to hope that people have a positive response,” said Associated Students Inc. Director of Health and Human Services Rosemarie Dauz. “We’re probably going to be the second or third campus that’s tobacco-free, depending on San Jose State. I’d just like to hope they take pride in that.”

Dauz said ASI recently passed legislation that will embed a voter survey on the smoking policy. The survey will allow students to choose a preferred policy for Sac State during its campaign on April 23-24.

“(ASI) wants to do what’s best for students, but we also want to hear what students want us to do with this issue,” said ASI President Monica Cortez. “It’s really just trying to get as much information so that whenever that issue arises again at the Faculty Senate level, we’re ready and well-informed.”

While several CSUs, such as San Francisco and Fresno State, are smoke-free with designated smoking areas, Abadilla said the areas create a false perception that more people smoke than there actually are.

“People congregate and it can also become a social thing for people to get together in designated smoking areas,” Abadilla said. “That’s definitely not something the university should be promoting.”

Senior journalism major Alyssa Sanguinetti said if there is a new policy, it must be a lot stricter and clearer, because the placement of ashtrays near certain areas causes confusion.

“I think if (Sac State) were to become a tobacco-free campus, (it) should definitely have designated smoking areas,” Sanguinetti said. “College is stressful, and there’s a lot of smokers on campus. I think it would be a really bad decision to cut that out completely.”

The Public Health Club conducted public opinion polls in 2010-2011 to assess faculty, administration and students’ attitudes on cigarette smoke. Of the 218 surveys completed, 74 percent supported a tobacco-free campus.

Junior civil engineering major Taylor Wilson said the current smoking policy is fine, even though everyone has to put up with the smell.

“People have a choice to walk around,” Wilson said. “There’s more ways to get to a building than one. So people who really don’t like the smell that much, they can find a new way to walk there.”

Justin Anderson, a junior psychology major, said he avoids smoking 20 feet in front of a building if there is a sign. Doing so would be rude because of student traffic, he said.

“If they do (change) something, it’ll get a stir, but I think people can manage,” Anderson said. “They’ll smoke off-campus. It shouldn’t be too big of a problem.” 

If Sac State adapts a new smoking policy, an implementation period of at least one year would be included, in which incoming students will learn about the policy and signage would be posted around the campus, Abadilla said.

“It’s really not if it’s going to happen, but when it’s going to happen,” Abadilla said. “We are at the state capital and it would be nice to set an example for what universities should be like. That’s promoting the education that people will receive through health and through a good environment to learn.”