Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor
The recent school – wide policy that all t o b a c c o products may only be used in designated smoking areas has left many students disgruntled and at the mercy of the elements, but not all is lost for smokers on campus as efforts are currently under way to help make these areas a little more comfortable, said Executive Director of Multi-Campus Operations Jennifer Cornish.
Administration has submitted plans to build covered canopies over smoking areas to provide shade and protect students from rain and snow, and new benches have been purchased, some of which have already been installed on Main Campus, Cornish said.
“We wanted to make sure with these designated smoking areas, that there be a sufficient number of them, and we looked at creating some conditions that would make them comfortable,” Cornish said.
The project has already had to go through a long, prioritized budgeting process, but Cornish said it is now on the Master Plan list of projects, and funds should be available next July.
“It’s a pretty long, involved, complex process,” Cornish said.
In the meantime, smokers have had to trek across campuses, endure harsh weather, and even deal with unstable and possibly dangerous seating or no seating at all in order to have a cigarette, Biology major and smoker Marisa Julian said.
“I would really like to see a little bit more consideration for the smokers,” she said.
Julian said that during one smoke break, when she and a friend sat down on the same side of a circular metal picnic table in a smoking section on Main campus, the entire table was toppled and they had to scramble out of the way to avoid being hurt.
“It’s really difficult for us as smokers, having your only cigarette for the day, and you have to freeze, or get wet, or burn in the sun. It seems a bit ridiculous,” Julian said.
Radiology major Ginese Vigil said since smokers have been asked to make the effort to remove themselves from high-traffic areas and walk to the designated sections, which are often far from their classes, the least the school can do is to offer shaded areas.
“Smokers take into consideration the feelings of non-smokers by going to certain sections on campus. And in order to keep that consideration it would be nice to have canopies,” Vigil said.
The full project will not begin until next s u m m e r , but in the m e a n t i m e , C o r n i s h said that the a dmi n i s t r a tion wants to hear from the students about what their needs and concerns are in different areas of the campus.
On the website cnm. edu/smoke free, students can follow a link to a forum where they can make suggestions on the policy and the proposed project.
“People can submit their comments, questions or whatever, and I’ll get back to them,” Cornish said.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have also been restricted to these sections, and many students who use them disagree with the policy and do not think that they should fall into the same category as traditional cigarettes, said Vigil, who only uses e-cigs.
E-cigs do not produce the second-hand smoke of traditional cigarettes, but instead vaporize a nicotine solution and emit odorless water vapor, according to Wikipedia.org.
Vigil said she thinks the restriction on e-cigs is due to misunderstanding, and thinks that people have not taken the time to educate themselves on the difference.
Cornish said the team that created the new policy included e-cigs in the ban because there has not been enough research on their true effects.
“We found that there is significant doubt in the scientific community around the health effects, and also whether or not the vapor includes impurities. We decided to include them because there is still a big question mark around them,” Cornish said.
The Food and Drug Administration has not released its official findings on e-cigs yet, but there have been several other studies done, many with conflicting findings.
Scientists from the University of Athens, Greece, found that “using an e-cigarette caused an instant increase in airway resistance that lasted for 10 minutes in the majority of the participants,” according to medicalnewstoday.com.
However, another study on e-cigs conducted by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association found that “with generally acceptable usage levels, there were no health dangers posed by an e-cigarette’s vapors,” according to digitaljournal.com.
Vigil said she does not think e-cigs should be allowed during class, out of respect for the teacher and the other students.
However, Vigil said that since she does not believe that the vapor causes any harm, she does not always follow the school’s current guidelines.
“There’s a couple buildings where it’s easier, if I have a break, to just go into a hall or a restroom,” Vigil said.
Political Science major Jonathan Swenson said that he and many others use e-cigs as a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, and that the current restriction takes away some of the incentive for many people to do the same.
“If the school policy is really to help people quit smoking, they should give every advantage to people who switch to e-cigs,” Swenson said.
Cornish said she acknowledges that people like Swenson may have a valid point.
She said that if new studies were released showing that e-cigs were safe for their users and the people around them, the school might consider changing their policy.
“I think that all our decisions and policy should be based on good solid information. So while I can’t say that we would change it, I think that that would serve as a basis for looking at that,” Cornish said.