CSUN’s smoking policies not enforced

Brian De Los Santos

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Although smoking is not permitted within 20 feet of buildings, CSUN does not enforce the policy. Photo credit: Virginia Bulacio / Staff Photographer

The CSUN campus has implemented smoking policies that promote a non-smoking lifestyle, yet they are not quick to enforce them.

The school falls under California law which states that no smoking is permitted within buildings, state-owned vehicles, and outdoor smoking is only allowed 20 feet away from buildings. The university’s smoking policy incorporates the state law in addition to prohibiting smoking near any windows or air vents, recreational facilities and outdoor dining areas. Ashtrays and garbage disposals are placed according to pedestrian traffic and fire codes.

A recent report from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights, a non-profit organization, indicates 466 colleges and universities in the U.S. have implemented full non-smoking policies on their campuses. So far, 25 California colleges and universities are listed as non-smoking.

According to the CSUN website, the university’s smoking policy is “To promote a smoke-free environment for our employees, students and visitors and to encourage non-smoking lifestyles.”

However, CSUN police and Physical Plant Management do not enforce the policy.

“We are not responsible unless it becomes an issue that affects campus security,” Christina Villalobos, CSUN public information officer said. “Then we are called in.”

PPM provides signs of the 20 feet rule, clean up, and ashtray maintenance.

“PPM cannot enforce the policy, it can only remind people of the policy,” said, Lynn Wiegers, interim executive director of PPM. “It’s up to each individual to police themselves.”

Michael Kay, junior cinema-television arts major, said when he lights up a cigarette on campus he is mindful about the 20 feet rule, possible smoke clouds and cigarette butts.

“We have the freedom to smoke on campus, I think it just comes down to common courtesy,” Kay, 20, said.

Opinions on campus vary when it comes to the topic of smoking.

Thomas Yann, 19, liberal studies sophomore was not aware CSUN had any smoking policies.

“I think people already smoke wherever they want,” Yann said. “We should just continue to not have as much enforcement.”

Others say that smoking on campus is fine, as long as it does not become a problem to non-smokers.

“It should be allowed but only in certain areas,” Gerard Aquino, 20, said who was visiting the campus.

However some students are not fond of lighting up.

“I don’t like smoking at all, and secondhand smoke is something I cannot tolerate,” Kenia Guluto, said, math and political science graduating senior. “It is just unhealthy.”

Litter caused by cigarette butts also raises some concerns.

“One of the biggest plights around campus is seeing cigarette butts (on the ground), especially in the classrooms,” said Conor Lansdale, A.S. president.

CSUN’s Campus Organized and Unified for Good Health is a health advocacy group that encourages positive health on campus. COUGH-Northridge is part of the COUGH network that has groups in 23 CSU’s and various other campuses around the country.

“COUGH-Northridge’s No.1 function is to ensure good health for faculty, students, and staff,” said Dr. Kathleen Young, COUGH-Northridge’s coordinator and health sciences professor.

The health group’s sub-committee, CSUN Smoke Free Task Force, researches how the university’s smoking policy is being enforced. They are compiling an executive report based on data found on campus, such as cigarette butts, policy signage, ashtray usage and air pollution, to ensure policy enforcement.

Dr. Young said that they hope the report shows officials that CSUN is in need of a much more stringent smoking policy. She said the report would be released next year.