Smoking: The burning question

ILLUSTRATION BY PATRICK HASCALLShould WCC become a completely smoke-free campus?

That is one of the options proposed by University of Hawaii President David Lassner for all UH campuses. The alternative is to abide by current state laws that limit smoking to certain areas.

A campus forum will be held on Monday, March 16 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in Ākoakoa 101 to 105 to let students, faculty and staff voice their opinions.

“My hope is we will weigh the pros and cons and make smart choices in determining what is best for (the) campus,” said Daphne Ho’okano, a WCC student.

WCC recently changed its policy to follow state regulations on smoking. The college eliminated the designated smoking zones and now allows smoking virtually anywhere on campus, as long as it is 20 feet from an entrance to a building, open windows, vents, courtyards, breezeways, terraces, stairways, access ramps and 50 feet from a drop-off point.

“You will notice if you go around on campus you won’t see any designated smoking area signs anymore, and you will see people smoking around every building,” said safety and security manager Rick Murray.

WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra will make the final decision on the smoking policy after reviewing a report by a committee chaired by Murray and listening to feedback at the open forum. The committee was created “to make a recommendation to the chancellor regarding a smoke-free campus,” said Murray.
Many students have expressed opinions about changes in the smoking policy to Ka ‘Ohana.

In answer to a question posed over email and through classes, 67 percent of the 183 students responding said they do not want the campus to go smoke free. However, many of those students said they would like the campus to re-establish the smoking zones.

“The current smoking restrictions in place are fair to both smokers and nonsmokers alike,” said student Todd Coffey.

However, students on campus with health problems are worried about the negative effect that second-hand smoke is having on their already poor health, and they want all smoking to be banned on campus.

“I was introduced to second-hand smoke as a child, and now I have asthma,” said student Drake Salsedo. “The damage it has done will be with me forever. Why should I have to go through it every time I have class?”

Many smokers responded that they feel as if they will not be able to attend classes here at WCC because the stress of not being able to feed their addiction would be too much.

“I am a smoker. I do not like smoking, and I have tried to quit. Last summer I quit for 66 days, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life,” said Donita Garcia.

“The first day of school started, and the stress got to be too much, and I lit a cigarette… Most smokers are not smoking because they want to. They are smoking because it is an addiction that is very hard to break.”

WCC drama teacher Taurie Kinoshita also voiced concern for anyone in evening classes.

“For those of us who teach or take classes at night, going off campus (to smoke) is not a safe option,” she said. “I have several theater students who are smokers. The idea of them having to drive (or walk) off campus to smoke at 9 p.m. makes me nervous.”

Some students have been frustrated about the removal of the smoking areas. The current UH policy says smoking will be prohibited in “any area that has been designated by the person having control of that area . . . and marked with a no smoking sign.”

Some have interpreted that with the new policy they could still have smoking areas by designating no smoking zones over most of the campus — meaning everywhere else could be where smoking would be permitted.

This would allow WCC to continue its policy of smoking zones using the new policy and not have smokers all over campus.

Many students complained about the use of e-cigarettes because of how large the clouds of vapor are and how many users have no problem blowing smoke/vapor into high-traffic areas. A new policy could ban the use of e-cigarettes.

“Yes, it does smell like candy,” said Joseph Flores, “but no one wants to inhale what has been in your lungs. Still treat e-cigs like cigarettes.”

If the campus were to become smoke free, smokers would be offered tobacco use prevention education.

It would include initiatives that encourage non-use and focus on the risks involved when tobacco is used by students.

UH-Mānoa has announced it will officially ban smoking on campus, starting July 1. The ban applies to buildings, outdoor areas and within vehicles on university property. The policy, however, does not currently include e-cigarettes.

by Jonathan Blais, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter