Next year’s ban is intended to curb secondhand smoke
THE SANTA CLARA
October 2, 2014
Santa Clara will be a tobacco-free campus beginning in July 2015.
President Michael Engh, S.J., announced in September that Santa Clara will ban tobacco use. The decision was made in response to a proposal drafted by two Santa Clara faculty members, which calls for a tobacco-free campus.
The proposal was drawn after the disappointing results of a survey conducted about secondhand smoke in California institutes of higher education.
In 2010, the California Youth Advocacy Network, an organization aimed at curbing tobacco use in California, conducted surveys to determine the effects of smoking on college campuses.
All California State University and University of California campuses were surveyed, as well as a select few private universities and community colleges.
When the survey was conducted in spring 2012, Santa Clara received a “D” letter grade for “a lack of enforcement and failure to protect students from secondhand smoke,” according to the CYAN report.
Following the release of the report, two Santa Clara students conducted their own survey of their peers in spring 2012 about the impact of tobacco use on campus.
According to the survey, 7 percent of respondents said they were never exposed to secondhand smoke while on campus, and only 15 percent of respondents said they thought Santa Clara’s smoking policy was “very effective.”
Santa Clara’s current smoking policy prohibits smoking inside of all university facilities and requires individuals to stay 25 feet away from the opening of any university building, such as a door or window, when they smoke.
The survey also found that 58 percent of respondents were in support of becoming a smoke-free campus.
“It seems that the majority of the student population is in favor of eliminating tobacco use on campus,” Stephens said. According to Stephens, the proposal to enact a smoke-free policy states that eliminating tobacco use on campus would reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and eliminate tobacco litter.
“Cigarette butts make their way through storm drains to streams and rivers, often ending up in the ocean,” said Lindsey Kalkbrenner, Santa Clara’s director of sustainability. “From a waste standpoint, I think this policy can help us reduce litter and maintain a clean, beautiful campus.”
Exposure to secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 50,000 non-smokers each year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found secondhand tobacco smoke to be a risk to public health and classified it as the most dangerous class of carcinogen.
“It is an individual’s right to smoke,” Stephens said. “It is not an individual’s right to impose secondhand smoke upon someone else.”
When the policy is enacted, electronic cigarettes will be prohibited on campus in addition to traditional cigarettes, according to Stephens. E-cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers that simulate tobacco smoking by producing an aerosol that resembles smoke.
“I plan on living off campus next year, but my initial reaction was ‘that sucks,’” said freshman Sean Leeper, who smokes electronic cigarettes. “I don’t smoke traditional cigarettes, so I thought this didn’t affect me. However, I suppose it is good that Santa Clara is going healthier. It might get me to cut back on smoking.”
Santa Clara will be joining over 650 colleges across the nation that are already completely tobacco-free.
Contact Naushaba Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org