By SOPHIA BAUER, AMANDA BINIECKI, CHANDA CRENSHAW and BRANDAN WONCH
Starting Aug. 6, Mid Michigan Community College will become a smoke-free campus, banning all smoking and tobacco products everywhere on the grounds of MMCC and in MMCC-owned vehicles. The only place faculty, students and visitors will be able to smoke is in their personal vehicles.
The policy change follows action by the Board of Trustees, which revised the current policy after a recommendation from the Strategic Council. The current policy prohibits smoking in all of MMCC’s facilities and vehicles, but has allowed smoking outdoors, except within 50 feet of doorways.
MMCC President Carol Churchill said the college has received numerous complaints from both students and employees who have been dissatisfied with the policy.
“The fifty-foot restriction has not been effective in establishing smoke-free zones,” Churchill said in a memo to all MMCC employees dated April 10. Smokers often ignore it, she said, especially in bad weather, when they gather near doorways to smoke. The results of this is that people entering the building have to walk through clouds of second-hand smoke, a problem for everyone but especially for faculty and students with breathing problems. Additionally, this issue has resulted in cigarette butts littering the ground in front of the entrances, according to the memo.
“For many years, the college has promoted the health and well-being of its students, faculty, and staff by establishing a smoke-free environment in all its facilities and college-owned vehicles,” Churchill said. The change in policy will eliminate issues MMCC has had with smoke and also allow students and staff to enjoy a truly smoke-free environment.
MMCC student Marty Schleder, a respiratory therapy major and a smoker, disagrees with the policy, believing students should be able to smoke on campus. Student Evan VanHoose, an outdoor recreation major and a nonsmoker, takes the opposite view, supporting the policy. “Non-smokers walking by don’t enjoy inhaling that garbage or having it blown in their faces,” he said.
The Board of Trustees has an implementation strategy in place, involving a volunteer team of both smokers and nonsmokers. This volunteer team will be in charge of information and communication, as well as coming up with strategies to implement and enforce the policy effectively. Those with ideas or suggestions are asked to email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am asking all employees to support this policy, beginning by personally complying with the policy starting Aug. 6, 2013,” Churchill appealed in the memo. “Secondly, I ask you to work together to remind each other, our students, and our guests about the policy if you observe violations.”
With the implementation of this policy, MMCC will join the ranks of 1,159 college campuses across the nation that are 100% smoke-free, 22 of which are in Michigan, according to statistics compiled by The Americans for Nonsmokers Rights. That organization notes on its website that researchers believe that implementing a nonsmoking policy may help to curb the habit since evidence suggests that eliminating smoking from campuses might reduce the urge to light up.
Central Michigan University is not on the list of 100% smoke-free campuses. CMU’s smoking policy, which parallels MMCC’s current policy, requires students to smoke 50 feet from all buildings. CM Life reported that a survey of staff and students in February showed that many felt a 100% smoking ban on CMU’s campus could cause people to smoke inside the residence halls.
(See “Upcoming smoking ban a breath of fresh air,” in Opinion section)
Michigan colleges and universities that are 100% smoke free, according to The Americans for Nonsmokers Rights website:
Alpena Community College, Baker College, Bay College, Delta College, Glen Oaks Community College, Grand Rapids Community College, Great Lakes Christian College, Henry Ford Community College, Hope College, Jackson Community College, Lansing Community College, Monroe Community College, Montcalm Community College, Mott Community College, Muskegon Community College, North Central Michigan College, Northwestern Michigan College, Oakland Community College, Spring Arbor University, University of Michigan, University of Michigan Medical School, Washtenaw Community College
What some MMCC students are saying:
“I dig the idea! No one followed through with the first implementation, therefore I feel that if you want to smoke, do it in the luxury of your own vehicle!” — Jamie Stevenson, nonsmoker, nursing major
“Glad, smoke smells horrible anyways.” — Kimberly Thomas, nonsmoker, nursing major
“I’m not a smoker, so it doesn’t really bother me either way. Some people don’t like to walk into a cloud of smoke before they walk into a building, especially if you’re a nonsmoker.” — Magen Baker, nonsmoker, psychology major
(If you’d like to voice your opinion on this new policy, send you ideas to email@example.com for publication.)