Smoking policy: Is it a good idea or a bad idea? (Con)

Joe Bergman, Photo Editor

It is important to know where one is coming from before you read their opinion on something as unique as a smoking policy. I was medically retired after a 15-year career in law enforcement. I have more education than most who teach on this campus. The only thing I have ever smoked has been an occasional cigar while sipping whiskey.

I don’t have an issue with the smokers on campus. I have an issue with the pending smoking policy.

Humans will only change their behavior when they really want to, or when the consequences for their behavior finally outweigh the benefits of that behavior.

I spent seven years working with alcoholics and drug addicts. For most, jail was not enough of a consequence to deter the unwanted behavior. It takes multiple stints in custody, forcing periods of sobriety upon them. It takes rigid structure in a treatment program, followed by peer-to-peer meetings and support groups. AA and NA are two of the more popular programs.

Most cigarette smokers share the same behavioral traits that alcoholics and drug addicts display. Nicotine is an addictive substance. It’s an unscheduled category drug, but published, peer reviewed research has shown nicotine to possess “moderate-high psychological dependency,” and to have a “high addiction liability.”I have qualified as an “expert witness” and testified in court on the subject of addictive behavior and amenability to treatment.

If you want to help a cigarette smoker quit smoking, it will only happen when that individual is ready to make that behavioral change. Otherwise, you better make the consequences for smoking out weigh the psychological benefits a smoker receives from lighting up. Why waste the time and money to implement a smoking policy if there is no mechanism for enforcement? Sure, it might make some people on campus feel good about themselves, but other then wasting money on “no smoking” signs, the policy is not worth the paper it’s printed on.

If you want to bring attention to the benefits of not smoking, launch an advertising campaign, because campus security has a tough enough job garnering respect on campus. Don’t impose a policy without a mechanism for enforcement. Campus security can’t arrest a smoker, can’t cite a smoker, can’t escort a smoker off campus, and can’t even order a smoker put out his/her cigarette. I guess campus security can violently shake a finger at the smoker, and when the smoker doesn’t listen, they can ask again.

I would honestly like to know how many policies without a mechanism for consequences have been successful? How would campus parking be if there were no consequences for violations? Even the campus library imposes consequences for violations of policy.

Instead, how about actually using the funding in a way that would actually benefit the students of Bakersfield College. Create an incentive based, behavioral modification program. Combine educational workshops with peer counseling. Help open the minds of smokers on campus to the idea of change, because that’s the first step in eliminating unwanted behavior.