By LOGAN COLEMAN
On Jan. 1, the College’s new smoking and tobacco ban will take effect. Many students have wondered what exactly the ban will change: how seriously will it be taken? Will there be disciplinary action in response to smoking on campus? What resources will be provided to smoking students and faculty?
The policy, from a general standpoint, has been well advertised by the school: most students are aware of the impending ban. What students are not familiar with, however, are the effects that the ban will have on student, faculty, and staff smokers’ lives.
“We are definitely sensitive to the experience of a smoker and do know how difficult it is to quit. We take those things into account when we’re trying to set parapets to make this policy work,” said Health Educator Chris Walters, leading the cessation resource efforts for the Wellness Resource Center (WRC), in response to questions of disciplinary action regarding the policy.
“We’re really trying to create healthier environments and culture, so it’s really going to be like if I’m a member of the community and you’re smoking, I might come up to you and inform you of the policy and ask you to stop. It’s not going to be write ups or law enforcement unless it’s done repeatedly, and multiple members of the community are pointing it out.”
Additionally, the school will not be creating designated smoking areas on-campus, but they will be developing “a map that will make the boundaries of campus more clear,” said Walters. Creating designated locations for off-campus smoking risks might be perceived as obtrusive to local businesses and residences.
As for cessation resources, the WRC will not be providing any direct resources. But, they will connect students with other on-campus and off-campus resources. The Counseling Center will be a resource for students and faculty seeking help with quitting or reducing their smoking. Additionally, the Wellness Resource Center will be directing students to primarily free support groups off-campus at locations like Penrose Hospital and to free mobile applications aimed to help with smoking cessation.
While Colorado College is seeking to provide help for students and faculty seeking to quit or reduce smoking, many student smokers still do not favor the impending policy. “I don’t feel that the policy is for the students’ best interest, but is rather a product of stigmatization towards addiction,” said senior Abby Needell.
She continued, “If the ban is to be put in place, greater cessation resources need to be available, such as more free counseling sessions for student smokers. Smoking is an addiction, and I’m not saying we should [normalize] smoking, but we should [normalize] decent and respectful responses to others’ smoking.”
Chris Walters expressed that the policy aims to be mindful of student smokers, “I don’t want smokers to think that we’re against them or that we’re forgetting about them, there’s still a little bit of work to be done before Jan. 1, but I think that as long as people know that it’s intended to be a culture change. It’s not necessarily like we think smokers are bad people. We are not trying to shame those that do smoke, we’re just trying to create a healthier environment for the entire community.”
Junior and Resident Advisor Mira Lu, also offered her opinion on the ban, saying, “I would say that the smoking ban is classist and exclusionary in many ways. Fundamentally, Colorado College is divided along socio-economic and racial boundaries; however, the demographic for smokers on campus are mostly those who are people of color and/or come from less privileged socio-economic backgrounds.”
“This then turns into an issue of exclusion, where smokers who may already feel out of place on Colorado College’s campus (this is a rhetoric I hear a lot from other international Chinese students) are further distanced from the concept of the ‘ideal Colorado College student.’”
Lu continued to say, “On the individual scale, there are a multitude of reasons why students, faculty, and Colorado College staff smoke. It ranges from self-medication for mental health issues, cultural education, lack of education due to socioeconomic reasons, and addiction. As a resident advisor, the lessons I have learned from discussions and trainings on mental health is that one should not take away someone’s process and method of self-medication without implementing a healthier alternative.”
Students interested in more information on the smoking and tobacco ban, beginning Jan. 1 can check the College’s web page, dedicated to the policy roll out, entitled “Smoke and Tobacco Free Campus Policy.”