Smoking policy possible

Crystal Valdez, Features Editor

Smoking on campus has been a topic of deliberation at Bakersfield College for years. By the start of March 2016, it is possible that BC will officially be tobacco free.

Last year, the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees ruled that every college within the district has the right to decide whether or not its students would be allowed to smoke on campus.

BC has since then chosen to be tobacco free. A procedure has been developed to aid in the implementation of the policy.

The procedure will be sent to the District Consultation Cabinet for evaluation by the end of February. Policy approval or rejection will occur in March.

“We’re not saying to people that they can’t smoke. What we’re saying is do it off campus, just for health reasons in general,” said nursing department director Cindy Collier.

Collier is openly in favor of a tobacco-free campus. She believes that the procedure does not take away the rights of students, and that students can do whatever they want off campus.

Collier added, “Really what we had to do is, we had look at it through a student standpoint and look at it through an employee’s standpoint.”

She stated that walking past secondhand smoke can be close to as detrimental to one’s health as smoking. One student smokes twice a day while another student may walk through secondhand smoke multiple times within a couple of hours.

“This is really about the health of the community that we live in. People spend a lot of time here, whether it’s students or employees,” said Collier.

She explained why she believes this would not only benefit BC, but also the community.

“The reason why I’m so pro this is when you look at the health issues that are associated with smoking… the list goes on and on and on.”

She added, “Heart disease, cancer, you name it. Kern County is one of the worst counties in the state for heart disease… when I went back and I looked at the research in general for smoking in California, the rate of smoking in CA has been dropping steadily year after year… and it’s about 12 percent of the population that smokes.”

“In KC, it’s rising. We’re up to 19%. And we already live somewhere with bad air,” Collier said.

According to Collier, no disciplinary action would be taken if a student or faculty member were to smoke on campus if the procedure has been approved and the policy established.

When asked what would serve as an incentive, Collier said that she hopes “peer pressure” will help.

Students cannot be kicked off campus, and faculty members cannot be fired because smoking itself is legal.

However, she hopes that students will take it upon themselves to support the tobacco free policy.

“We’re working with the student health center to provide cessation techniques for students… to be able to provide services for students and employees who do want to quit,” Collier stated.

The new policy would eliminate the use of various smoking products.

According to the proposed addition of the KCCD Board Policy Manual Section Three – Business Services, smoking means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any heated or lighted cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any plant product such as hookah or marijuana. Smoking also includes any electronic smoking device.

Collier believes BC students, smokers and nonsmokers alike, will support the policy. She concluded, “It’s all about health, and if you look at BC’s values, what is one of our core values? Wellness.”