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Smoking Ban Going Forward

September 29, 2010 by admin

Alex Hogger photo Smokers in the SLC gazebo may not have long to enjoy their habit once a proposed ban is approved.

By Charles W. Kim
Smokers on campus may be taking their last drags this semester.
“This is a transitional moment (for Brookdale),” President Peter F. Burnham said during a telephone interview Sept. 24. “We are implementing (smoking) cessation plans immediately.”
Burnham made his proposal to eliminate smoking on all seven campuses to the Board of Trustees during a special meeting later in the day.
The board is expected to approve the ban during its regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 14.
“I felt the issue was debated,” Burnham said.
The college’s student Governance board narrowly approved a smoking ban in the spring during a meeting that most faculty members did not attend due to a union meeting taking place at the same time.
Once approved, the recommendation went to Burnham to act on.
A draft of the implementation plan, obtained by the Stall, lists three major areas to be addressed both before and after the ban goes into effect Jan. 1.
According to the document, the school will begin a massive communication campaign to make everyone aware of the ban, start various programs to help smokers quit and finally to address enforcement issues regarding those who violate the policy.
Chief of Police William Sanford said he is mainly concerned with how the new policy will affect the manpower of his department.
“It depends on compliance,” Sanford said.
Sanford said his agency could deal with the issue if there were a small number of violators, but could run into a logistical problem if the number of violators climbs into the hundreds.
Currently, those who smoke in non-designated areas on campus can face a disorderly persons charge that is heard in Middletown Municipal Court and which does appear on the individual’s record.
Sanford said the new policy may have an “internal” college enforcement element, such as withholding a student’s transcript until a fine is paid to the school for a violation.
The penalties would increase up to the court summons for repeat violators, according to Sanford.
Burnham, himself a former smoker and cancer survivor said the issue has been discussed numerous times in the last 10 or so years and it is time for the college to move to a truly smoke-free campus.
“I understand individual rights,” Burnham said. “I paid a heavy price (for smoking), but this is not my decision alone.”
Burnham said the Governance Board could “study the issue until doomsday,” but in the end, policy decisions are the responsibility of the administration and the Board of Trustees.
“They (Governance) don’t make policy,” Burnham said. “They create a conversation and dialogue about this.”
Burnham said he understands the “challenges” police will have enforcing the ban, which restricts smoking except for inside an individual’s vehicle, but feels the college will be better off with the ban in place.
Student Life Board President Alec Moran said that while he personally does not smoke, he feels the process by which the recommendation moved through the system was wrong.
“While the issue was aired (in the spring), there was not enough time for students to give their collective input (to the process),” Moran said Sept. 28. “I’m not supporting smoking, but I’m not for marginalizing a segment of the student body (that does smoke).”
Moran said he hoped administration would give more time to future issues that could have such a large impact on the student body.
“The 16,000 students should have a voice (in decisions) too,” Moran said.

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