When the rule regarding a smoker’s proximity to a school building on the Colorado College campus was first implemented, smokers at CC had to be 15 feet away from school buildings. The distance was then extended to 30 feet. Now, CC is considering making smokers travel completely off-campus to engage in their favorite bad habit as a potentially smoke-free policy is currently being debated.
According to CC’s website, the proposed policy, which is now in its open comment period, is aimed at “reducing harm from tobacco use and second-hand smoke, providing an environment that encourages persons to be tobacco-free, reducing long-term health-care costs, and promoting a campus culture of wellness.”
The policy would prohibit a wide range of tobacco products, including smokeless alternatives like spit tobacco and snus. If approved by President Jill Teifenthaler, the new policy will go into effect as soon as this August.
From the language of the policy proposal, it appears that a smoke-free campus will be well-enforced. Students found smoking will be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. CC staff, faculty, and even contractors refusing to ash their smoke stick will be sent to their superiors, and guests will be promptly kicked off campus.
The response from students has been mixed. Senior Margaret Sport supports the proposal as an asthmatic who has long dealt with the fallout from others’ tobacco use. “They chose to smoke,” said Sport. “I did not choose my medical conditions.” Still, Sport would like to see some compromise, perhaps in the form of designated smoking areas on campus.
Barbora Hanzalová, a senior and non-smoker, is opposed to a smoke-free CC. “Cigarette smokers on campus are already incentivized enough to stop smoking, but it is very hard for them to end their habit,” she said. “So smokers would either have to walk off campus to smoke, which is highly inconvenient, or smoke on campus illegally, being worried about being caught.”
Others have asserted that the policy would create issues of enforcement with smokers and security forces or may harm former addicts who use tobacco as a substitute for more harmful substances.
“We recognize that quitting smoking can be a significant personal challenge, and we are invested in providing access to resources for those who do wish to quit,” said Director of the Wellness Resource Center, Heather Horton, who helped convene a coalition to develop the policy. “Research does suggest that smoke and tobacco free policies result in reduced tobacco use.”
The move to establish a smoke-free campus has been long in the making. In 2014, then-sophomore Jackson Foster founded an organization called Smoke Free CC geared towards achieving their titular goal. The movement failed, though their momentum was strong enough that just last April the school considered increasing the distance from buildings where smoking could take place. During the open-comment period for that policy proposal, enough members of the CC community demanded a smoke-free campus that Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Robert Moore and Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Dean Edmonds asked Horton to convene a coalition to review the current smoking policy and submit a proposed policy draft.
Proponents, like Chair of the Sociology Department Wade Roberts, who sat on the coalition alongside Horton, believe a smoke-free campus is long overdue. “I’ve also had to endure regular bouts of smoke in my office due to the inadequacy of the current policy,” Roberts said. “I thoroughly anticipate pushback by a vocal minority, but I’m confident that the college is ready for this move.”
Though not all who oppose the proposed policy change are smokers, Roberts is right to deem smokers at CC part of the minority. In a recent National College Health Assessment survey among CC students, 18.1 percent of students smoked cigarettes within the previous 30 days, 2.4 percent in the last 10-29 days, and only 3.1 percent were daily smokers.
Roberts’ heart doesn’t quite bleed for smokers under the proposed policy. “Last I checked, getting a few extra steps in during the day was a good thing.”