Colorado College is rife with enough subgroups to keep a sociologist busy for years, and currently one of them is in the spotlight. CC’s tobacco-smoking students are part of the less than 15 percent of adults in America that still smoke tobacco. With the recognition of severe health effects, the rate of tobacco consumption has fallen consistently over the past several decades. Non-profit advocacy groups and government agencies fought back against the entrenched social prowess of smoking culture and turned public perception of the activity from wonderment to stigma. Commercial campaigns and smoking bans led the charge in this movement, which is why CC students have historically not been able to smoke in campus buildings or close to entryways of buildings. The next step in the fight against smoking seems to be not just asking students to smoke away from buildings, but asking them not to smoke at all.
Starting Jan. 1, CC implemented a smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy. According to Director of the Wellness Resource Center Heather Horton, one of the main central administrators of the policy, the idea of the policy was introduced four years ago, and not by the administration. to smoking on campus brought their concerns to the college and formed a committee alongside Horton in 2014. The committee researched policies across the United States and found that smoking bans could be effective in not only moving the smoking problem away from campus buildings, but in actually influencing students to stop smoking altogether. The policy was at the time tabled, with President Tiefenthaler leaving the issue to the student body if they wanted change.
Almost two years later, the college was again reconsidering its smoking policy as a result of student concerns. Their original plan was to increase the distance away from buildings that students would have to be to smoke, but during a week-long public comment period in the spring of 2016, many students suggested the campus move to becoming entirely smoke-free. The policy was officially drafted by a student and faculty committee in Jan. 2017 and approved the following June.
Two months into the new policy, not much about smoking culture has changed from an administrative point of view, nor was that necessarily their intention. “My expectation would be that we will probably have a couple of years in trying to get everyone to the same place in understanding the policy and that this will be a process” said Horton. Students echoed similar sentiments when first hearing about the new policy, explaining that it was unenforceable and therefore more of a talking point than one of any real implementation.
The truth is a little bit of both realities. Administrators agree that it is both unrealistic and unnecessary to harshly enforce the smoking ban. “Anything we do, it’s never going to be busting in and grabbing a cigarette out of someone’s mouth” said Associate Director of Campus Safety Nick Calkins. It should be noted that despite the common misconception, campus safety will not be solely responsible for implementing the policy but will take the same role as everyone else. The campus is instead taking a community centered approach, where each member of the college is tasked with holding each other accountable to not smoke on campus. “I just hope that everyone complies with the policy … And that they do it in a cooperative way and help each other because it’s not a healthy lifestyle” said Director of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Maggie Santos. The hope is that members of the community will engage one another in respectful ways and have intentional conversations about how smoking impacts health. The goal is not to dole out a large amount of punitive measures, although repeat offenders could see these, but rather to build a new community standard that doesn’t include smoking.
Moving forward with the campuswide smoking ban, the administration will continue to remind students of the policy change, will offer cessation resources for those trying to stop smoking, and will continue to remind students that smoking is no longer allowed on campus. Soon enough facilities will remove all smoking disposal units from the campus. Administrators are reluctant to exactly define where is okay to smoke as the policy only covers the Colorado College campus, even though the college owns large amounts of property including much of the west side of Weber street. The ban, however, is meant to be honored in spirit, so smokers technically off campus could still be asked to move if they are affecting communities on campus. Administrators on all sides seem to be missing commentary from the smoking students, and welcome that input as well as direct complaints through the online portal on the smoking policy webpage.