Santa Barbara City College is now a butt-free zone after the Board of Trustees voted last week to ban tobacco on campus. President Lori Gaskin voiced her approval, saying, “As an academic institution, we have a responsibility to foster practices that address the education of the ‘whole’ student. Maintaining one’s health, fitness, and well-being are an important part of being a student, and becoming a completely nonsmoking campus communicates this message with great clarity and commitment.”
According to an American Lung Association tally, only 10 other colleges or universities in the state have completely banned smoking on campus. Not counted is UCLA, which went tobacco-free in April. Last year, UC President Mark Yudof called for the whole system to follow suit by 2014. UCSB will do so on January 1. Currently, SBCC offers designated smoking areas on campus. As of August 5, smokers will be obliged to travel outside one of the college’s entrances. “It will take a little bit of a hike if people have to smoke, and I understand addiction,” said Board President Marty Blum, adding, however, “The more we read about secondhand smoke — even outside — the more [a ban] makes sense.”
Head of business services Joe Sullivan, who ushered in the new regulations — which also ban e-cigarettes because they contain nicotine and emit vapors — kicked a two-pack-a-day habit when he was 28 and now competes in triathlons. The issue popped up on his radar because his department is responsible for cleaning up the smoking areas. He also fields complaints from people with health issues who are worried about secondhand smoke and environmental groups concerned about butts washing into the ocean.
The lone dissenting vote on the board was Craig Nielsen. (Trustee Veronica Gallardo was not present.) He said that he did not want to make a big deal of his disagreement and that the ban “is not a terrible thing in and of itself,” but he is concerned over the “erosion of individuals’ right to choose.” He added, “I just feel like there’s better things to spend campus money on than signs that say ‘No Smoking.’”