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New policy would make BC tobacco-free by next fall

A+student+smokes+while+posing+near+%E2%80%9CBCTobaccoFree%E2%80%9D+ad.%0A
A student smokes while posing near “BCTobaccoFree” ad.

A student smokes while posing near “BCTobaccoFree” ad.

J.R. Hensley

J.R. Hensley

A student smokes while posing near “BCTobaccoFree” ad.

Megan Fenwick, Reporter

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Bakersfield College may be on track to implement a tobacco-free policy by the Fall 2017 semester, according to Cindy Collier, the dean of Allied Health. Currently, BC follows state law regarding smoking, which requires smokers to stay 20 feet away from any entrance, exit, or window of a public building. However, talks of creating a new smoking policy for the campus have been underway for years. Although the Student Government Association has had to put the issue on the back burner for the last semester to focus on Measure J, according to SGA president Matt Frazer, other groups on campus, such as Allied Health, Student Health and Wellness, Student Nurses Association, and Public Health Science students have been making headway with combating smoking on campus. The proposed procedure was drafted by a task force comprised of BC faculty and staff such as Ray Purcell and Nicky Damania, as well as student representative Alexa Romero. The group was headed by Collier to tackle BC’s smoking issue. The policy, if enacted, will ban all smoking, tobacco products, and smoking devices from campus.

“This procedure has been successfully vetted through the Academic Senate and the Classified Union,” says Collier. “We are currently waiting to hear from the Faculty Union, however they have previously been in favor.” The plan will be presented to the College Council, which helps advise the college president, on April 21.

BC has also been awarded a $7,500 grant from the Truth Initiative, a non-profit organization whose focus is to stop tobacco use. Ray Purcell, the director of the Student Health and Wellness Center, said the grant has been used for informational purposes, like the “Imagine #BCtobaccofree” signs placed around campus.

“We are working with California Youth Advocacy Network who are also providing educational and cessation support at no cost to us,” said Purcell.

The smoking issue was almost resolved on a statewide level last year when California Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D) introduced Assembly Bill 1594, which would ban all smoking and tobacco products from California State Universities and community college campuses. The bill was subsequently vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who felt the campuses should be allowed to draft their own smoking policies. “Given that Gov. Brown is very anti-tobacco, I was very disappointed and surprised that he chose to veto the bill to ban smoking on all public campuses,” she said.

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New policy would make BC tobacco-free by next fall