STAFF EDITORIAL: Then there were two: BC’s smoking options narrow


The issue of smoking on the Bakersfield College campus is not a new one.  Since 2005, it has been a subject that has received much attention from the student body, Student Government Association, and even Kern County health officials. Numerous polls and votes have been taken. There have been bans with no enforcement, and there have been dissonant voices from either side of the issue, whether it is debating the health concerns or the unease of losing personal freedoms.

It can be hard to discern the true natures of the issue when the only voices heard are those staunchly against smoking on campus, or the anti-authoritarian chimneys loudly calling to leave it alone.

No matter the arguments, the fact is that there is already a law in place to deal with this contentious issue. California law states there shall be no smoking 20 feet from any doors or windows, and senate bill AB 795 allows schools to implement fines on smoking policies.

A couple of things seem constant amid the commotion that is BC’s smoking policy.

With past smoking bans, enforcement was not practical or feasible, and the rule simply faded away. The idea of designated smoking areas is not a new thought either. Past suggestions for designated areas seemed to merely fall by the wayside.

Whether smoking is banned or suggested areas are implemented, the constant over the years has been this: There has never been a long-lasting ban even with approval from the powers that be.

The BC campus had a smoking ban in 2009. There was no enforcement, which led students to overtly snub the policy. This ban eventually fell to the wayside with students and officials forgetting the issue altogether.

The second constant that seems to exist during these cyclical smoking issues is the sheer lack of student knowledge or outright apathy toward the subject. Unless students are well informed, beyond a few signs around campus, the issue will never be truly resolved and the majority of students will stay apathetic.

Now, this cycle of bans seems to have gained a new element: the wholesale neglect of a constituency to achieve personal satisfaction.

Last semester, during a preliminary vote to broach the smoking ban, people were polled as to their wants on the issue. The majority in those early surveys did want some kind of change on campus, while slightly less than half wanted 100 percent ban and 19 percent wanted to leave the issue alone. Although a small group, those 19 percent need to be accurately represented.

The smoking ban policies in the past included three logical choices: non-smoking campus, designated smoking areas, or to leave the California law in place that requires smoking at least 20 feet from windows and doors.

During this bout of the smoking debate, the SGA has completely removed the option to leave the law alone. This decision was made because during votes in the past, no option received the majority. Hoodwinking the student body by slashing a legitimate voting choice on the issue to serve a personal agenda appears to be the pattern. This has left many students saying exactly that,  “why?” and “where was the choice to leave it alone?”