By Evelyn Sanchez
A plan that would ban smoking on campus was proposed by East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez at the Work Environment Committee meeting on Oct 1.
If realized, ELAC would join more than 1,000 college campuses that have banned smoking in the United States.
Martinez’s proposal is in the development stages and would include a campus-wide survey that asks students to determine how many would agree to the ban.
If plans for the survey are approved, it will be sent to students through an email link when receiving their registration confirmation number.
The survey would take effect next semester, according to Jeffrey Hernandez, academic senate vice president, who supports the plan.
“With working in the educational system, we actually have a moral obligation to not condone smoking, and I think we do condone it if we say it is okay to smoke,” Hernandez said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that smoking has caused over 443,000 deaths in the U.S. It is at fault for 90 percent of lung cancer in men and 80 percent in women.
More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
Hernandez said the proposal to conduct a student survey is a way for supporters to show the administration the overwhelming support ELAC students would have for the plan.
However, not all students agree.
Criminal Justice major Bianca Rodriguez feels that banning smoking on campus is an infringement on her right to choose.
“I don’t think it’s fair that certain colleges are trying to ban smoking on campus. Smoking is my personal choice. And if I were smoking in an area where I am allowed to, then why should anyone stop me?” Rodriguez said.
An effort to ban smoking at ELAC was previously proposed in 2012.
“When the recommendation was being discussed with the president at that time, he said, well we should not make a smoking policy that is going to discourage students from coming to school. Students have enough to worry about with just being students,” Hernandez said.
Current law already prohibits smoking of tobacco products in an enclosed space of employment, within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance or operable window of a public building.
That includes public colleges and universities, according to The American Lung Association.
ELAC has two designated smoking areas on campus.
The smoking areas are located by the lunch truck along the freedom of speech walkway and by the husky statue next to the stadium parking lot.
If the plan takes effect, it is unclear where the funding would come from, according to Hernandez.
“The state legislature authorized the issuing of fines. If the community college district wanted there to be a no smoking policy, then there could be a policy.” Hernandez said.
The University of California campus system has implemented a plan to ban smoking that is scheduled to take effect January.