Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tobacco Free Campus Policy

There are over 49,000 deaths in the US among adult non-smokers as a result of second hand smoke, according to the National Cancer Institute.  So how does this affect Salt Lake Community College?

SLCC is in the developmental process of implementing a Tobacco free campus to insure the health and wellness of each and every student.

“Currently, the tobacco policy on campus is supporting the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, so by state law you can’t smoke within 25-feet of a doorway or an open window,” said Peter Moosman.  “It’s really hard to enforce, so the policy that we are proposing is a tobacco free campus policy.”

Going through the process of making this policy, the Health and Wellness Department went through several loopholes that prevented them from progressing forward.  

The Health and Wellness Department had conflicts with discrimination against smokers, taking away smokers rights and how they were going to enforce the policy.  

“Smokers as a group have no rights as smokers.  You don’t have the right to go into a public place and expose others to toxic chemicals,” said Peter Moosman.

In a survey done in fall of 2011, the Health and Wellness Department at SLCC showed that 86 percent of students believe that secondhand smoke is either extremely or very harmful.  

More than 7,000 chemicals are identified in secondhand smoke alone and cause approximately 69 types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institution.

“People that do have rights are those with Asthma and Respiratory issues.  They are protected under the American Disabilities Act and so we as a college have a responsibility to protect those students by law,” said Moosman.

SLCC isn’t taking away the smokers right to smoke but simply asking them to leave the campus to the nearest public sidewalk to not expose the toxic chemicals to other students on campus.

Another idea that was brought up instead of completely getting rid of tobacco was to implement a designated smoking station.  The Health and Wellness Department worked out maps to see what still complied with the 25-feet rule but the only places were small pockets and tended to be high traffic areas.

“Looking into the designated smoking areas wasn’t very effective because of our campus being so small in order to walk to one smoking station, you could probably walk another direction to a public street,” said Moosman.

Also considering the current policy, there is no designated line telling you where 25-feet is.  The same issue can occur with the designated smoking station.  Where can you define the line for the designated smoking station?

With the new tobacco policy currently going through a feedback process, this policy won’t be going into effect until Aug. 1, 2013, the start of the next school year.  If everything goes as planned and it is approved by the vice president of student services, they plan to take it to the cabinet and begin to enforce the policy by next year.  For more information, visit the Taylorsville Redwood Student Center Building and talk with the Health and Wellness Department or visit their website at slcc.edu/hw.

By Nichole Steinfeldt