A better effort will make SMC a smoke-free campus

SMC is a “smoke-free” campus, with three designated, smoking areas for students to use when they feel the urge to light up. These designated areas should be the only places SMC students are seen smoking; yet students can still be seen strolling around the campus with a lit cigarette between their lips. The first designated smoking area at SMC is next to the parking structure on Pico Boulevard; the second is by the Art Complex, near the construction area, and the third is on Pearl Street, next to the Counseling Complex.

Many SMC students seem to get the third location confused, because there is a widespread tendency to smoke on the grass square next to the Liberal Arts building instead of on the sidewalk on Pearl Street off of campus.

There is a sign that says “Smoke Free Campus,” referring to board policy 2440, which states that “Santa Monica College is committed to providing a healthy, comfortable and productive environment, free from effects of second-hand smoke, for its students, faculty and staff.

Smoking shall not be permitted in and District building, vehicle or facility, or on District grounds.” In spite of this, students still smoke on campus.

It really seems as though the sign is just there for decoration, because no one pays attention to the fact that it’s not a designated smoking area. The sign doesn’t face the students that smoke in the area, and perhaps giving it a 180-degree spin could make a difference.

It’s always a wishful thought, since too many students pile up in the area to smoke.

Numerous times, police and other faculty staff members have walked past the square without making a fuss over students smoking in the area. Students don’t even attempt to throw away their cigarettes when police officers walk past them, which shows they aren’t too concerned by the non-smoking ordinance.

SMC Campus Police officer Mark Kessler said that if they see students smoke, they will “attempt to educate and advise students to where they may smoke.”

It doesn’t seem like they are dealing with the problem very efficiently, or enforcing the policies in place. Surely there should be more action taken to keep SMC a smoke-free campus.

“If you smoke in a building or within 20 feet of a building, you can be cited into court. That state law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004. If the offender is persistent and the officer has warned them more than a few times, student discipline would be the next step,” said Kessler.

It would be a good idea to actually enforce the policy for a change, so that students would begin to take it more seriously.

SMC enforces its plagiarism and cheating bans quite strictly, but the smoke-free campus policy seems to be, for the most part, meaningless.

“I do believe the students have taken it a little more seriously once a referral was made, and for the most part, verbal warning would suffice,” said Kessler. “For a non-student, or a student who was very uncooperative, the Officers have the right to withdrawal of Consent to Remain on Campus. If they violate that order, they would be arrested for trespassing.”

Disciplinary action should be brought against students who treat school policies as frivolous. The effect would be that those who are smoking on campus would see that this is a serious problem, and an obvious violation of an important policy.

More people might also use the designated smoking areas, rather than smoking all over campus.

David Allen, an SMC student, said the reason that students frequently smoke in non-designated areas is because no one is doing anything about it, and that they do not care enough to go elsewhere. “I wouldn’t smoke outside an actual building or by the library, but the square is definitely the spot to be at,” Allen.

Allen is right in saying that if staff and police aren’t doing anything about it, then the students won’t take the policy seriously, and will persist in violating this rule.

“My friend got caught cheating and was reported to the disciplinary office, and I vowed to myself that I would never cheat after the consequences he faced,” said Allen.

If more students were disciplined, then they will think twice before flagrantly violating school codes. No one should be forced to quit smoking just because they are at school, but they should have some sympathy for non-smokers. It would be greatly appreciated.