Preston’s Perspective: San Jac Needs Better Enforcement of Smoking Policy


Tariq Zehawi/The Record/MCT

Violations of tobacco bans are commonplace in higher education. Francisco Altamirano (right) and Alexandra Budde, light up next to a no smoking sign in this 2007 photo taken at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey.

San Jacinto College District adopted a new smoking and tobacco use policy for the Fall 2014 semester, limiting smoking to designated areas on all three campuses.

According to policy VI-KK, all members of the College community including volunteers, visitors, and contracted workers, are to abstain from any type of tobacco use, unless utilized in designated tobacco areas approved by the District’s Chancellor.

A potential problem with the policy is that it does not include any firm discipline codes. But, it does note that consequences will vary based on whether the incident is a repeat offense, if it posed a fire danger, if the violator left litter, and if it was inside the school buildings.

In 2005, South campus went completely smoke-free and remained so until smoking was permitted again under the new policy, giving them four new designated spots. According to a 2005 San Jacinto Times article, the campus was strict at the time. Students caught smoking had their identification numbers taken down, and a hold was placed on their accounts if they avoided contacting administrators about smoking on campus.

On the other hand, in my experience as an occasional smoker, Central campus is more relaxed than South. The Pasadena campus provides double the space, giving smokers eight spots across campus. But, students, though few, can be found in undesignated areas between buildings smoking wherever they so please.

Similarly, North campus offers seven places to smoke and appears to be in the same situation as Central. I have seen students smoking from balconies on the second floor of buildings with no one around to enforce the policy.

Furthermore, students and faculty should join in efforts to self-police. Smokers, including myself, should make the time, and effort to walk an extra 25 feet to a designated smoking spot, rather than clouding up the airways for passersby with respiratory conditions, pregnancy, and those who just simply do not want to smell smoke.

However, smokers should not be the only ones making efforts toward cleaner air. College policies were put in place for a reason; therefore, it should implement them further than initial rollouts of signage and spots. If the concern is to make air quality better, they need to step up enforcement of the policy, rather than turn their heads to students breaking the rules.