With a proposed smoking ban on campus still in the discussion stage, Orange Coast College officials plan to survey students to get their thoughts on the matter.
The survey will be taken at the OCC Health Fair on March 15 and will allow students the opportunity to voice their opinions, according to Dean of the Student Health Center Sylvia Worden.
“We’d like to come up with the most reasonable smoking policy that students agree on,” Worden said.
Bernardo Cervantes, a 20-year-old medical engineering major and president of the Doctors of Tomorrow club, said the survey takes into consideration what the student population wants regarding banning smoking on campus.
Reasons for the proposed ban are primarily focused on student health and safety, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences Paul Asim said.
OCC already follows the Coast Community College smoking policy, which states that there is no smoking within 20 feet of any operable doors or windows on district property. The policy also states that each of the district campuses — Orange Coast College, Golden West College and Coastline Community College — can enforce a stricter version of the current policy at their own discretion.
The district chancellor and board of trustees must approve any kind of smoking ban or any type of utilization of designated smoking areas.
Cody Poletti, a 22-year-old chemistry major, said that a smoking ban would be going too far.
“It would take away people’s rights to smoke,” he said.
Other students said a ban would discourage a lot of students from attending and spending time on campus.
According to smoker Sean Flannery, a 20-year-old environmental science major, while second-hand smoke can hurt a non-smoker, it is not the only chemical that is harmful to the human body.
“It’s ridiculous, that’s just it. I think the argument about second hand smoke is an uneducated argument,” Flannery said.
According to Asim, smoking is medically proven to be a health hazard that not only affects the smoker, but the non-smoker as well.
Asim said his father died at age 47 of lung cancer and that he later developed adult asthma as a result of his father’s smoking.
According to Asim, many students on campus have emphysema, breathing disorders like asthma and other related illnesses, which are aggravated by tobacco smoke.
“I understand the reasons behind why people want or need to smoke,” Cervantes said. “I am just concerned with the health aspects of it.”
Instead of placing a ban on smoking, many people on campus suggested designated smoking areas.
Asim said that designated areas will allow both sides to cooperate and no one would be chastised.
Cervantes said designated smoking areas would accommodate smokers while allowing non-smokers to travel between classes without being weary of tobacco smoke.
I would like to see the policy in place respected without the need of enforcement. However, since we are talking about a health risk, in the case that it is widely not respected, some enforcement should be contemplated,” Cervantes said.
Asim said students should be able to monitor themselves — and he would give them Hershey’s kisses if they chose not to smoke around non-smokers.
“I would rather let the people regulate themselves and not create a culture of hostility,” Asim said.