By Abraham Davis
On Feb. 22, the Board of Trustees will hear first reading of a proposed policy to ban all smoking at City College. The ban would include cigarettes, cigars, marijuana and vaping, and remove the existing designated smoking areas.
If adopted, the policy would take affect Aug. 21. Campus police would be responsible for enforcing the ban.
Trustee John Rizzo said the policy has been in the works for five years and he “absolutely” supports the ban. It was prompted by similar bans at UC and CSU campuses, including San Francisco State and University of California San Francisco.
“The problem with smoking on campus is that students and workers have respiratory problems, and second-hand smoke affects those issues,” Rizzo said.
Ankita Sethi, a member of the Student Union, said she supports the ban. “I have asthma, so I would like a smoke-free campus,” she said.
“The sole purpose behind the policy is to provide the healthiest environment we can. The health of the students will benefit from a smoke-free campus,” said George Martiniano, a health worker at Student Health Services and a member of the Breathe Healthy Task Force.
Taylor O’Callaghan, a City College student and 11-year Army veteran, opposes the ban. He said he has anxiety issues linked to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Without [cigarettes], I would have trouble concentrating in school, so I feel like my grades would be affected,” he said.
O’Callaghan equated the removal of the designated smoking areas with losing a right.
Becky Perelli, a former director of Student Health Services, now retired, was on the task force when it was created. She said the intention is not to punish smokers. “We don’t want to make it punitive. We want to help smokers and support smokers to delay smoking, or help them quit.” She said Student Health Services provides smoking cessation “quit kits” to help smokers quit if they want to.
Tameem Tutakhil, president of the Associated Student Council, said he originally supported the ban but later had mixed feelings, in part because of how it may negatively affect students like O’Callaghan.
Because Phelan Ave is not part of Ocean Campus, Tutakhil said it would attract smokers before they go to class. “Smokers will put out their butts and leave them on the street,” he said.
Joseph Howarth, a City College student and cigarette smoker, said despite the policy’s good intentions, it would present problems.
“Without specific places to smoke, it will put a stress on areas that all the smokers will have to go. Also with no smoking areas, people might just smoke wherever,” Howard said.
“If the ban happens, I would smoke probably in the same places—outside Batmale Hall, places that are discreet enough to not be in people’s faces.”