Smoking policy at BC moves forward

AK Pachla, Reporter


The Student Advancement Committee, assembled by the Student Government Association, held a regular meeting on Nov. 10 to discuss the topic of Bakersfield College’s erstwhile campus-wide smoking ban. The topic of smoking on campus has also been brought up in a recent Academic Senate meeting.

At present, the only policy enforced on campus is the one provided by California law.  The law says smoking is not permitted indoors in public places, nor within 20 feet of any operable doors, windows, or vents, open or not.  This rule applies both to firelit tobacco products and electronic vaporizers.

The non-smoking initiative at BC has something of a history.  During the 2012-2013 academic year, the matter was put to a vote by the student body, which chose an outright ban by a wide margin.  To date, no further implementation or enforcement action has been taken against smokers on campus, except for what is mandated by state law.

During the Nov. 10 meeting, the matter itself was tabled by committee chair Sen. Fitzgerald Graves, who committed to pursuing further information on the resolution.  Present at the meeting were SGA President Clayton Fowler; senators Alfredo Sanchez, Jose Chavez, and Daniel Galvez; as well as Raquel Vega, SGA public relations director; and SGA director of finance Epifania Mendoza. Nicky Damania, director of student life, also sat in for a few minutes.

Discussion on the matter continued for about 10 minutes, with the assembled senators bringing up diverse concerns such as security and sanitation around designated smoking areas, and enforcement of the policy among college employees, who have certain superceding rights of their own.

The findings of the Academic Senate on the tobacco free initiative were similar.  Cindy Collier, dean of Nursing/Allied Health, and Ray Persell, the new director of Student Health and Wellness, presented the topic, recommitting to creating a smoke-free campus in line with the student body vote from two years ago.  Collier explained that the matter was still in review by the Kern Community College District, and confirmed that there are no consequences for policy violations at this time, as Public Safety is not authorized to ticket individuals for campus infractions beyond parking.

The proposed addition to the KCCD Board Policy Manual defines “smoking” as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product,” and includes any device that produces an aerosol in place of smoke.  The proposal also includes several items that are not tobacco, such as cloves and cannabis, under the heading of “tobacco product”.  The smoking ban, as proposed, would begin next semester.

Graves said he is committed to seeing the wishes of the student body implemented on campus but acknowledges the obstacles to enforcing a campuswide smoking ban.

“My main argument is that if the student body voted that it’s smoke-free, then we should be enforcing it,” he said.

Students who would like more information on the tobacco-free campus initiative or to address concerns regarding its wording and implementation are invited to visit the Office of Student Life in Campus Center 4 and speak to a member of Student Government.  Of possible opposition to the previous vote, Graves puts the responsibility back onto the student body.  “Students who are here and desire to have a desgnated area should start a petition and bring it forth,” he said.