UCC Mainstream Online

Should UCC be a smoke-free campus?

Jared Hegg / Mainstream
UCC policy allows for smoking on the outskirts of campus. Twenty nine percent of community college campuses are smoke free. Should UCC be one of them?

Of the 17 community colleges in the state of Oregon, only five are 100 percent smoke and tobacco-free. The other 12 have less restrictive smoking policies, such as allowing smoking only in the parking lots. Of that 12, one other campus shares UCC’s policy of perimeter smoking—no smoking permitted in the core of the campus, only on the outer edge.

These statistics bring up the question—should UCC be a smoke-free campus? “I wouldn’t want a non-smoking campus, I like the shacks but it would be nice to have someplace to sit. I think they should keep them back by the river and out of people’s faces,” UCC student majoring in math and education, Julie Lee, said.

The question creates controversy. Some students want a smoke-free campus because it provides individual and collective health benefits. “I would like to see UCC become a smoke free campus because it creates a healthier environment,” Haley Stammen, an aspiring English major, said. “I think the benefits will pay off in the long run with a cleaner campus.”

According to Marjan Coester, director of the ASUCC Student Leadership team, an Oregon Tobacco-Free College Initiative started in 2007 through the American Lung Association Oregon. UCC got involved with the initiative in 2008 and worked for over a year on the current policy, which was accepted in September 2009.

“I served on the task force,” Coester said, “and as I recall, the decision to create a tobacco-free zone within the interior of campus (and to provide areas for smoking in the parking lot areas) was because there was concern that if the entire campus property was designated tobacco-free, tobacco users would cross the street and move into the adjacent neighborhoods.”

Before the perimeter policy was established, tobacco users could smoke anywhere on campus, as long as they stood a certain number of feet away from doorways and other air intake areas. When that policy was in progress, a number of complaints were filed regarding smoky air and cigarette butts littering the ground. Since the policy changed, the number of complaints has decreased.

“Both our security staff and myself have had some complaints regarding smoking on campus. Most complaints are to do with smokers not smoking in designated areas,” Steve Buchko, the director of safety and security, said. Violators are given a warning and then a 25 dollar ticket.

Limiting smoking to smoking “kiosks” was a compromise to completely banning smoking on campus, according to Buchko.

There has been some discussion on the next step in the policy, but as of right now no decisions have been made. The perimeter policy will stay as it is for now.