Smoking ban aims to end on-campus use, charge fines

By Benjamin Bassham, News Editor

Motions are underway to universally ban all smoking of tobacco, marijuana, including vaporless devices, across all Contra Costa Community College District campuses, under penalty of fines escalating up to $100 per offense.

Currently, tobacco smoking is permitted only in campus parking lots.

Academic Senate President Beth Goehring said the issue was discussed last semester at a District Governance Council meeting. Managers, faculty, classified employees and student representatives voted, and all but the faculty representative agreed that an absolute ban and fines should be considered.

The council’s minutes say faculty speaker Silvester Henderson’s opposition was due to the structure of the fines.

Gregory Evilsizer, the president of the Classified Senate of the district, said discussion began after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a statewide campus smoking ban, citing a desire to let campuses decide their own policy. The talks continued over concerns that children at, for instance CCC’s Early Learning Center, would be affected by secondhand smoke.

Goehring said that at a another vote this semester, this time without student representation, again only the faculty opposed the ban.

Evilsizer said it will now go to the district Chancellor’s Office, then the Governing Board.

The Governing Board’s vote will be the final step. If passed, it will be district policy, though it will take time to write into college procedures.

Evilsizer said, “At a guess, it can’t come into effect any sooner than (the end of the college year),” he said.

Goehring said fines will scale up for repeat smokers. Evilsizer said the fine is $25 for the first two offenses and $100 for all subsequent offenses. Police Services will be responsible for ticketing offenders.

Police Services Lt. Tom Holt said currently there is no financial penalty, even for people who smoke outside the parking lots. Violators who don’t stop after a warning can face referrals and academic penalties instead.

Marijuana use is already a misdemeanor offense, without exception.

Holt said in his time at CCC there have been few problems with smokers. He said during the Campus Center and Classroom Project construction there were complaints of people smoking in the plaza between the Library and the Applied Arts Building, but that stopped when construction finished.

He said that, in general, “People are keeping far enough away that it isn’t a problem.” And when someone is smoking close enough that smoke could be pulled into the building’s air, they’ve always been polite and complied when asked to move.

“We, at (Police Services) are not the ones who are changing it (policy),” Holt said.

Tobacco addiction is famously difficult to break, and according to Gallup polls most smokers are poor. Goehring asked, “Will they start a smoking cessation program to help people?”

Evilsizer said the idea had been discussed, and generally agreed with, but no decisions had been made. “I imagine that nothing is written in stone yet,” Evilsizer said.

Goehring also suggested some leniency for students, perhaps allowing them to perform some service instead of simply laying an additional burden on students who may already be in financial difficulties.