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SF City College to ban on-campus smoking

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Two people walk past a Designated Smoking Area at City College of San Francisco’s ocean campus. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Designated outdoor smoking areas will soon become a thing of the past at City College of San Francisco, where the college’s leadership voted Thursday to advance an on-campus smoking ban.

As the ban is currently written, smoking and the use of tobacco and marijuana products, including vaping and e-cigarettes, will be prohibited.

Access to medical marijuana, however, is still under debate.

“I’m not advocating [for] open access to smoking marijuana everywhere on campus,” said City College Trustee Tom Temprano, who pointed out that “a number of our students are medical cannabis patients.”

“I do think that for medical cannabis patients it’s important that if this policy will affect their ability to use their medicine, that the college investigate things to mitigate that,” he said.

The board will still need to vote on administrative guidelines for implementing the ban in the coming months, before it takes effect on the first day of the Fall semester.

Both UCSF and San Francisco State University have implemented similar smoke-free campus policies in recent years.

City College Trustee John Rizzo said that City College’s policy was in the works some five years ago but “got derailed by the accreditation crisis.”

“We were early at that point and now [we are] behind the curve,” he said, urging his colleagues on the board to vote for its approval Thursday.

The policy calls for additional resources for student smokers wishing to quit in an effort to support them throughout the transition, including informational pamphlets and smoking cessation programs offered through the college’s health center. Student Health Services has secured an annual $5,000 grant over three years to help implement the programs.

Students who do not comply with the ban will be subject to penalties ranging from a verbal first warning to a $100 fine for repeat offenders, according to Rizzo, who introduced the ban.

The proposed fees raised some concerns among the trustees.

“I am particularly concerned if we have significant financial penalties that will be [issued] to students who are smokers, who tend to be lower income,” said Temprano. “These fines have significant impact.”

Rizzo said that the object of the policy was not to “collect fines and make money off of fines,” but to “help people with a more healthy lifestyle.”

A survey of nearly 1,000 students conducted last year found that 45 percent were bothered by second-hand smoke and 65 percent supported a 100 percent smoke-free campus, according to Rizzo.

Student trustee Bouthaina Belayadi said that the City College Ocean campus currently has “multiple designated smoking areas,” with one located near the college’s Family Resource Center.

“It’s harmful, there are kids in there,”she said.

As a former smoker, Trustee Thea Selby encouraged the college’s administration to lead with compassion while crafting the administrative guidelines.

“I think a pamphlet is nice but it’s not necessarily the thing that gets people to think about change,” said Selby, adding that City College leaders should consider a more proactive outreach to current student smokers. “I don’t want to penalize the very people who are suffering from an addiction — I know how hard it is to break.”

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