Smoking forum lights up discussion

From left ()

From left ()

Smoking and designated smoking areas were the main focus of a campus wide forum, “Don’t be afraid to ‘butt in,'” held on March 15 in Skyline’s Gallery Theatre.

As an issue that’s been hovering over this campus for years, the school’s Health and Safety Committee took on the job of coming up with some situation that would benefit both smokers and non-smokers.

Last fall, the committee proposed to College Council the idea of creating designated smoking areas on campus.

The forum was designed as a way of assessing the effectiveness of the designated areas existing on this campus since the beginning of this semester.

“We’ve decided to bring the issues [on smoking] to a focus and to resolve them in some way.” Victoria Morrow, president of Skyline College, said at the start of the forum.

Morrow added that the college council plans to place durable shelters at the designated areas but that the council first wanted to learn from the forum whether there would be support for the shelters.

The panel at the forum consisted of the interim Chief of Security, Tommie Phillips Sr., Chair of Skyline’s Health and Safety committee, Sherri Hancock and two representatives from Breathe California, Laravic Flores and Karen Licavole.

Phillips and Flores both talked about how harmful second hand smoke is, both mentioning that 47 hundred Californians die from second hand smoke a year.

“Second hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country behind alcohol and drug abuse and smoking,” Flores said.

Flores commended Skyline for creating designated smoking areas, a trend she says is now happening at colleges and universities across the state. Flores added that the areas should be away from heavily populated areas because second hand smoke can affect bystanders from up to twenty feet away.

“Smoking in groups actually saturates the local area with tobacco smoke,” Flores said. “So those that come in contact with it are exposed to very high levels of cancer causing carcinogens.”

The forum was well attended with representatives of students, staff and faculty both smokers and non-smokers expressing their concerns around designated smoking areas and smoking in general.

Mike Fitzgerald, physical education instructor at Skyline, expressed his concern about the current designated smoking area located between buildings 3 and 4. Next semester the PE department will be located in building 3 and Fitzgerald was worried about the cigarette smoke coming through the building.

“When the doors are open on the west side of the gym it only takes one smoker in that section to gag out anywhere from 100 aerobic dancers or 15 badminton players or 40 stretchers,” Fitzgerald said. “Hundreds of people will be in there using that facility; we can’t have people in there.”

Skyline student, Sarah Figueroa works in The Learning Center. Figueroa mentioned how she has to deal with a lot of smokers in front of building 5. She is very bothered by all the smoking and said although she realizes that this transition might be difficult she believes smoking should be limited to parking lots. Figueroa stressed the importance of getting more education out about smoking.

“I think it’s about time that we address the issue of people following trends,” Figueroa said. “It’s a fad to smoke cigarettes to young people; I think we need to address that.”

Skyline student, Jeff Lake, spoke about how he smokes and feels as if the college is against him.

“Smoking is not a choice, it is an addiction,” Lake said. “If I’m here for eight hours and I’m not allowed to smoke anywhere on this campus, I’m not going to this campus.”

Lake expressed a concern which echoed several others’ in regard to the weather at Skyline.

“The sun’s shining right now, but five minutes from now it’s likely to be snowing,” Lake said. Lake said he would just like a roof over his head so he won’t have to “stand there and get soaked.”

Skyline cosmetology student, Sasha Galloway mentioned that she smokes because she sees it as an escape from the stress in her life. She expressed concern about the possibility of banning smoking all together.

“If you have a campus without smoking at all you might lose future students that maybe need an environment like this to save them from the street,” she said. “Having a non-smoking campus completely may send people away.”

Telecommunications Professor, Omer Thompson, said he didn’t think smoking should exist at Skyline at all. He feels however that the process of getting smokers to quit should be approached with kindness and understanding.

“We need to provide [smokers] with a safe warm place where [smokers don’t] have to harm anyone else,” Thompson said. “I would be happy to help Jeff set up a tent, which we can rent, that won’t even get into how much it costs for one chemotherapy or one doctor’s appointment, just to find out whether that cough was the beginning of the end.”