By Brandon Richardson/Editor in Chief
With the trend of banning smoking practically everywhere and in light of the current discussions on how to enforce the “smoke-free campus” policies at LBCC, many smokers, myself included, have growing concerns.
Regardless of the enforcement method chosen by the Associated Student Body and the Board of Trustees, it is going to mean fines up to $100 for anyone smoking outside designated areas. Not only students, but all employees and visitors as well. That seems steep for smoking a cigarette.
However, my qualms with the entire situation are not necessarily the enforcement, but the policy as a whole.
We have a limited number of designated smoking areas on the campuses. Looking at a map of the LAC, eight locations are marked as smoking areas, which might appear more than sufficient. However, the numbers are misleading considering five of the locations are not viable for use during a school or work day, due to the considerable distance from most classrooms and offices.
Breaks from class or work are usually short and people may not be able to get that far that fast.
Aside from the five that are simply too far, a smoking area that is actually in a convenient location has no sign marking it as such. So the location cannot be counted, seeing as no one really knows about it. The count leaves two options for students, employees and visitors to smoke at the LAC.
At the PCC, four designated smoking areas include two that fall into the “too far” category. So, again, only two locations are usable for smokers at the PCC.
I also am interested to see how the policy-makers and enforcers will react to smokers in the parking lots and on city-owned sidewalks.
Second on my list of problems with the smoking ban is that no smoking area at LBCC has any type of cover. No type of awning or canopy protects smokers from rain or other elements.
So, on a rainy day, smokers are expected to stand in the rain, mostly on wet grass or mud (sometimes caused by sprinklers, as well) and walk great distances to partake in their habit. That seems like treating an entire group of people as second-class people.
Next is the fact that a large portion of the smoking community is reasonably respectful. More often than not, smokers can be seen walking to locations where nonsmokers are not congregated in large groups, not lighting up right in the middle of them and expecting them to deal with it.
Now, the last point can be taken to a broader level and be said of all college campuses that have put smoking bans in place, some of which do not have designated smoking areas at all, and other smoking bans nationwide. Somewhere along the way it became popular to fight for the rights of every group of people. Women, the gay community, every race, religion, they all have at least one thing in common: people worldwide are fighting to gain equality and rights for them.
However, while all the progress is being made, it is becoming more and more commonplace, acceptable and even expected to discriminate against smokers.
Last time I checked, smokers are people too and should be able to live their lives how they want as long as they are respectful.