BC works on new policy for smoking

Amber Hayden, Online Editor

For the past few years, there have been conversations on campus about where Bakersfield College stood on the smoking policy. Although, there seems to be some disagreements between SGA President Alex Dominguez and other members of SGA on how strict the policy should be.

SGA and the dean of Allied Health, Cindy Collier, held a meeting Feb. 20 to discuss what seems to be a year and a half rollout that will announce where the campus is going with its smoking policy.

BC hopes to offer a service to educate smokers and possibly offer students and employees the patches to help them quit because BC may soon be completely tobacco-free.

After having been tabled for quite a while, SGA president Alex Dominguez once again brought up the topic of changing policy. “I spoke in favor of it as the trustee, the policy change allows the campus to decide what happens on campus …basically what needs to happen now is just a resolution saying that SGA supports it,” said Dominguez.

The current standing restriction for smoking on campus is federal law. The law states smokers have to be 20 feet from the building. But the ongoing goal is to make the campus 100 percent tobacco-free.

This means a complete ban on everything from cigarettes to the vape pens that some students use. Even if the vapors from the pens are mainly water, they still consider the pens a tobacco product.

The college does not want to penalize students for using tobacco products on campus, but would rather educate them on the risks to themselves as well as those around them. No full decision on this has been made, though.

Although Collier and Dominguez want to see the current smoking policy go, there seems to be some unrest between the pair and several members of SGA.

Megan Lonsinger commented on there being a difference between being role models for the student body, and telling them that SGA knows better than the student body on what was good for them health-wise.

“I don’t want to tell any of my constituents that they can’t do this even if I don’t like it,” said Lonsinger.

With several agreeing with Lonsinger about not wanting to come off better than the student body, several of the senators asked for another survey of the campus to be done.

Aeri Kim made the suggestion of having the senators go into their departments to conduct the surveys and report back, this way the polls were more current instead of several years old and in her opinion skewed.

Colton Nichelson also agreed with Kim, “I think as a student government we need to conduct more surveys concerning this before we take a stance. I think that is our job,” he said.

In Kim’s opinion some students are using the products to help with the stresses that come with being a college student, “You can’t just say you can’t smoke on campus anymore, we are just going to leave you at this stressed out position where the students can’t do anything about it,” she said.

But according to Collier, smoking can only make it worse as far as the stress is concerned.

The other question raised during the meeting was instead of going completely tobacco-free, was to instead put up several designated areas around campus strictly for smoking.

With designated areas, concerns for costs come in because the occupational safety and health administration would have to be brought in to approve the areas. Collier said it would be something the college could do if that was decided, but she once again said she would not support that choice.

Collier along with another faculty member also tested to see if it was possible to make it from one side of the campus to where the sidewalks line the outer edges of the school, “You can walk either direction depending on where the building is to the sidewalk, but you have to go to the one that is closest to the building you are in,” she said.

The student body has their own choices to make, but when on the grounds of the campus they are hoping students will not use it because it doesn’t just affect the smoker but it is also affecting those around them.

“When I’m sitting over by the humanities building and it’s blowing in my face, I’m more worried about trying to get away from the smoke because they are being inconsiderate,” Dominguez commented.

Collier commented also, “My smoking employees are going to give me more of a headache then the students will because they are stuck here for nine to 10 hours a day.”

The goal for Bakersfield College, according to Collier, is to be a leader in the community, and by going tobacco-free the college is showing young people that it believes in promoting health and wellness for everyone.