|SIGN OF THE TIMES: students alight in prohibited area.|
|Lee Morant Security Guard|
New Smoking Policy: No Ifs, Ands or Butts
By Nathalie Horner
To clear the air, RVCC is getting tough with people who smoke near doorways or other prohibited areas.
Under the policy in effect at Raritan Valley, smoking is allowed only outside in designated areas. Smoking is banned by New Jersey law in all public buildings, including the college.
“The college administration and the student government have talked about having a more aggressive smoking policy for four years,” explains college President Jerry Ryan. “We’ve been unable to get together on a policy that we could all agree on. This fall, I decided to take things into my own hands and suggest to the custodians and the security guards that they need to be more aggressive in enforcing the smoking areas.”
Over a year ago, signs were posted to indicate the locations of smoking areas; among those places is the courtyard between the north and south buildings. These signs were mostly ignored, Ryan says.
The new policy was prompted by hundreds of complaints by staff and students, who maintained that smokers congregate near building entrances. People were not able to go outside without inhaling second-hand smoke, Ryan adds. “Those of us who don’t smoke can walk through the non-smoking areas without having to breathe the second-hand smoke,” he reasons, noting that there have been few complaints from smokers about these limitations.
The previous system lacked enforcement, Ryan says. People would smoke anywhere and there was no one to make them stop. Student Government had proposed a policy to impose fines on violators, but this was not put in place. Now, enforcement of the new policy falls on the custodians and the security guards, who have a new responsibility. The system is to have the “Smoking Police” ask people to move to a designated area if they are smoking in a non-smoking area.
“Our hope is to isolate the smokers in an area where they can smoke together, and they would be far enough away from those of us who don’t smoke so that their smoke won’t have any negative impact on our health. It’s more important for the non-smoker to have a healthy environment than it is for us to tolerate smokers in the wrong areas,”says Ryan.
“The second thing, which really irritates me, is that too many of the cigarette buts end up on the ground instead of in the ashtrays in the designated areas. This will hopefully help to keep the grounds clean.”
There is no plan to
spend any money to build a special enclosure for smokers to smoke during
President Sheik Mohamed Kaba states: “Yes, we the SGA officials fully support the president’s new policy abut prohibiting smoking in no-smoking areas. Before the beginning of classes, SGA officials and Mary Sullivan, our advisor, had a meeting with Dr. Ryan, and one of the major things he asked of us was to get students to observe to this law. We pledged our best to protect the non-smokers against second-hand smoke.
In fact, we have no smokers in our association, but we do have smoker friends and would like for them to follow the signs for the smoking and non-smoking areas. In that case, we will have a win-win situation.”
“We are asking the students to smoke only in designated smoking areas, and to deposit cigarette butts only in proper receptacles, not on the ground,” says Mary Sullivan, executive director of student services.
A group of smokers was asked what they thought of the new policy.
“The new policy is effective to an extent. I think it is good that security is doing this,” says Mark Schechter. Another smoker, who identified himself as Breon, responds: “It makes no sense to have separate areas since we are already outside.”
Kristen Bodemer adds: “People should be able to smoke anywhere outside. There should be no designated areas.”
Michael Finley responds,
“If we are outside, we should be able to smoke in the middle of