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Sierra students fired up on new outdoor smoking ban

Both sides firm on new campus policy starting New Year’s Day
By: Jon Brines Special to The Press Tribune
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The days of trying to keep smokers within 20 feet of a building entrance or open windows has now been thrown out the window in favor of a new outdoor smoke-free policy. “Sierra College is committed to providing our staff and students with a healthy, safe and supportive learning and working environment,” said Christina Wright, spokesperson for Sierra College. Starting Jan. 1, Sierra College is joining the ranks of dozens of California community colleges who have already limited smoking to designated areas in parking lots around campus. The policy is nearly two years in the making. Students who smoke or bothered by those who do have strong opinions about the new environmental expectations. Christine Sullivan said she was happy to see the administration’s poster advertising the ban. “It’s frustrating,” Sullivan said. “I don’t smoke. I think it is disgusting. I hate the smell. I hate the students who smell like smoke.’ It’s unclear how many Sierra students smoke but about one in five college students are regular cigarette smokers, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “As long as I’m not blowing the smoke in people’s faces, I don’t see what problem is,” said smoker Cassie Lish. Some smokers like Lish said they plan to sneak a drag when no one is looking and want the school to butt-out. “People are going to smoke anyway,” Lish said. Wright said the administration is counting on compliance. “We believe that most people will voluntarily comply with the new policy; however campus security may be called to officially remind them,” Wright said. Officers stationed on campus from the Rocklin Police Department are not expected to enforce the ban, according to police. However, other security guards and staff may ask people to stamp it out. “If there is a problem, it will be handled in much the same way that all student discipline cases are handled,” Wright said. In the Sierra College Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, disciplinary action will be taken if there is “Willful or persistent smoking in an area where smoking has been prohibited by law or District regulation.” Sierra students John Taylor, Lish and Sullivan had no idea what the punishment for smoking would be. “I’ve never been caught. I don’t know what the consequences are,” Taylor said. Just how that discipline is administered is determined on an individual basis by the school disciplinary officer. “That could be as simple as a verbal warning or in the most egregious situations lead to expulsion,” Wright said. Wright said it may be easier for students to get help and kick the habit once and for all. “There are many smoking cessation clinics offered by our healthcare providers,” she said. She encourages students to get the information from any of the Sierra College Health Centers.