Movement to make campus smoke free |

Movement to make campus smoke free

Second-hand smoke and cigarette butt litter generated a small but vocal campaign to ban smoking at Sierra College’s Nevada County campus.

After hearing testimony from concerned students, college board members agreed to make the Grass Valley campus smoke free by 2011 rather than 2013 as earlier planned.

That’s not soon enough and steps need to be taken now to curb health and environmental hazards, said Peter Barry, a recent graduate of Sierra College and reformed smoker.

“We need to have a transition period,” Barry said.

He says he doesn’t care if people smoke, but they shouldn’t expose non-smokers to second-hand smoke, including the underage Ghidotti students who take classes at the college.

“It’s not like I’m an anti-smoking zealot, just don’t put other people at risk,” Barry said.

Barry says some smokers are careless and leave thousands of cigarette butts all over the campus and the shoreline of the Koi pond. Others don’t respect the school’s rule of keeping a 30-foot distance from buildings.

Smoke free campuses are rare in the state, and only three have gone all the way by banning smoking everywhere including the parking lots, according to the California Youth Advocacy Network.

The reason for the delay is to allow staff who smoke plenty of time to prepare for the day the campus becomes smoke free, said Sierra College Dean Neal Allbee.

He estimates about 10 percent of staff smoke.

In the years leading up to the campus ban, cessation classes and other health education will be offered to make the break easier.

The school prefers to prevent heavy handed enforcement, Allbee said.

“It’s an emotional issue. If you’re going to make strong regulations and policies, eventually you’re going to have to use enforcement,” Allbee said.

In a survey of 2,251 Sierra College students and faculty, primarily from the Rocklin campus, 75 percent favored a tobacco free campus.

Another 55 percent said the campus should become tobacco free before 2011, 9 percent said 2011 is soon enough and 25 percent said the college should not ban smoking.

Of those surveyed, 83 percent said they didn’t smoke compared to 16 percent who did and less than one percent that didn’t answer.

“We have to be fair to everyone there. There are still quite a few people who smoke on the campus and it’s not just students. We have to give them time to quit smoking,” said Nancy Palmer, board member and representative of the Grass Valley campus. She suffers from asthma and voted to make the campus tobacco free earlier than 2011.

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