Board looking at smoking policy
Governor’s bill limits fines to $100 maximum
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
The Governing Board is examining a smoking policy and fine as a result of legislation passed by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.
In January, Brown signed a bill letting community college districts with a Governing Board resolution assess a fine for smoking violations of up to $100. While each district can determine the cost of the fine, it cannot exceed that amount.
“Currently there is no fine for smoking on campus,” Police Services Lt. Jose Oliveira said. “Although there is a law, there’s no real criminal penalty.”
The Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board has yet to come up with a proposal to establish a smoking fine, but plans to do so in the future, ASU Rep. Albert Ambris said.
Before Brown signed the bill, state law prohibited smoking inside public college buildings and in order to smoke outside of the buildings, students had to be at least 20 feet away from them.
Police aide Brandi Wilson suggested the fines be akin to the “three-strike rule” with the first fine being $50, the second fine being $75 and receiving a citation on the third offense.
“I think (a three-strike policy) is a good idea,” she said. “We get a lot of complaints about smokers, constantly telling them to move. This should help them stop.”
Despite agreeing with Wilson, police aide Raj Sidhu said many students would be unfamiliar with a new policy if it is eventually adopted. He said a warning should be given to violators before they start getting fined.
Oliveira said Police Services would be responsible for enforcing the new policy at Contra Costa College during the day and in the evening, but because there are other issues on campus that need to be addressed and the department has limited resources, catching violators will not always be a top priority.
He said a smoking policy, which would be districtwide, will not cost the college much. Creating designated smoking area signs, updating the campus catalogs and assigning police aides are the only areas money would have to be spent.
Oliveira also said that money collected from these fines is going to be divided between court fees, police enforcement and programs to help those quit smoking if they choose to do so.
Business accounting major Patrick Yarnold said he understands the need for a fine.
“You can’t really reprimand the students, they’re adults,” he said. “The best way to hit them is in their pockets.”
Student Farhan Farooq said the policy cannot stop people from smoking and offered up the idea of having more designated areas in less crowded parts of campus and setting out ashtrays and signs.
History major Rachel Sanders said, “The policy both will be and won’t be effective. It will be effective if the students know where to smoke, and not effective if they don’t (abide by) it.”
Oliveira said while he is going to enforce a new policy if one is passes, he doesn’t agree with fining students because they already have to spend money on books, tuition and other school-related matters.
He said there are still other avenues that have not been looked at and he urged students to voice their opinions at the Governing Board meetings.
“I don’t know if fining will really make a difference,” he said. “If they’re going to break the rules, then they’re going to break the rules.”