Letter to the editor: tobacco on campus

Letter+to+the+editor%3A+tobacco+on+campus

A little over a month ago, we received a letter from reader and Montgomery College student Lauren Barbieri regarding tobacco use on-campus. In the letter, which you can read in its entirety below, Barbieri reports seeing constant violations of MC’s anti-tobacco policy throughout the campus, specifically in the wooded path near the South Campus Building.

“Having to walk through a cloud of smoke and inhale someone’s secondhand [sic] smoke is not something I choose to do.” -Lauren Barbieri”

Having passed through that area myself, I can attest that there are no fewer than two or three people smoking there at any given time of day. However, what Barbieri takes issue with is that: A) the smoking is taking place at a high-traffic area, forcing students going to and from the Lot 13 parking area to breathe second-hand smoke, and B) that there were two security officers stationed nearby, making no attempt to stop the smokers.

For those not aware, as of August 2008, all tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.) are, according to MC’s website, “prohibited from Montgomery College property, including its three campuses at Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, and its central administration building in Rockville. This new policy affects all buildings, athletic fields, pedestrian walkways, entryways, outdoor terraces, campus bus stops and parking lots.”

Obviously, not every student is going to abide by the rules set in place by MC, but the fact that it happens in such a high-traffic area in plain view of security personnel is thoroughly disappointing. The following is a copy of an email I sent to Montgomery College’s tobacco policy contact on Tuesday, Feb. 26. As of Thursday, April 4, I have yet to receive a response.

“Hello,

Recently we received an email from a student regarding the use of tobacco on-campus. The students states that she witnessed several security guards completely ignoring a group of students smoking near the south campus building.

The current policy is clear that no tobacco is permitted on college property. What exactly is the college doing to enforce the no-tobacco policy?

Thank you.”

If any of our readers have had experiences regarding tobacco on campus (or lack thereof), we’d love to hear from you, either in the comments below or by email at clarke@mcadvocate.com.

Hello,

I am currently a student at the Rockville Campus. As of August 1, 2008, all of the three campuses are tobacco-free. According to the policy set forth by Montgomery College, this “affects all buildings, athletic fields, pedestrian walkways, entryways, outdoor terraces, campus bus stops, and parking lots” (http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/news/News_Archives/news07020801.html). Signs are posted, in clear sight everywhere, all over campus. Yet, I see violations, clear as day, all the time. Just this past Thursday, while walking to the furthest lot (lot 13) on Rockville’s campus, I cut through the woods on a paved path to the parking lot — a path always littered with smokers and their cigarette butts. The ironic part was that there was a security golf cart, with two security staff members, posted up just beyond the path. Had the wind chill not made it feel like it was 10 below zero, I would have stopped to have a chat with these gentlemen (I think they were watching the crosswalk, to make sure pedestrians were using the crosswalk button, and to ensure that traffic was stopping). Either way, I saw no enforcement of the policy taking place.

Normally, I would not have an issue with people choosing to smoke in a public place. I have an issue when it affects me. Having to walk through a cloud of smoke and inhale someone’s secondhand smoke is not something I choose to do. When smokers block a public pathway, in which they are not supposed to be smoking on in the first place, I will have a problem with that too. Tobacco-free policies have been implemented in schools, bars, restaurants, office buildings, and most other public places. Why these policies are not enforced, and why violators are not punished, is beyond me. Why have these policies set in place if an institution is not going to enforce them? It is an individual’s choice to inhale cancerous chemicals in cigarettes, but why should I have to suffer too?

Sorry for the rant, but obviously I feel very strongly about this issue. If you would like to do a piece on this, please feel free to use my email, or feel free to contact me about my opinions on the matter. If you happen to know the proper personnel or department in which I can contact regarding this issue, that would be great too. I would be curious to know how other students feel about this (issue) on campus?
Thanks for listening,

Lauren Barbieri