2014-11-07 / Schools

Moorpark College may become a tobacco-free campus

Smoking currently allowed only in designated areas
By Art Van Kraft

Smokers at Moorpark College may soon be a thing of the past.

Although students are currently allowed to smoke in designated areas in the parking lots, the college is considering a 100- percent ban on smoking.

Smoking on college campuses nationwide has become a hot topic. In January, the UC system— which includes 10 campuses and five medical centers—became 100-percent tobacco-free.

“The policy prohibits the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, water pipes, pipes, hookahs, chew, and any other noncombustible tobacco product,” according to the UC system’s website.

It’s a policy Moorpark College also wants to put in place, said Sharon Manakas, the school’s health center coordinator.

“We know that most 18-yearolds develop their smoking habits for life now,” Manakas said. “So if we can put something in place that helps decrease addiction, I think that’s a positive move.”

The parking lots are the last bastion for those who smoke on campus.

Manakas leads a committee comprised of faculty and students put together by college president Bernie Luskin. The committee will consider a total ban on tobacco on campus.

“I think for the college environment and the health of all students and employees we should make the college completely tobacco free,” Manakas said. “We also need to support those who want to quit. We give counseling and refer a lot of our students to the Simi Valley Free Clinic. They have the most successful program in the county.”

Luskin said there have been complaints on both sides of the issue.

“Different groups have had different positions on smoking bans at different times,” the president said. “Apparently that’s controversial on lots of college campuses. We all know it’s unhealthy, so it comes down to one individual’s right to do harm to him- or herself.”

Luskin said he wants the committee to get input from the Asmake sociated Student Body and other student groups to see if they can come to a consensus.

“When it gets to me, I will a decision,” he said. “I hear complaints from smokers as well, and some people are negative about the people who smoke. It’s not as simple as designating an area for smoking.”

ASB president Farshid Orak said he has mixed feelings about the ban.

In an article in the Moorpark College Student Voice, he said allowing students to smoke in designated areas, combined with programs to help students quit smoking, is a fair solution.

“A smoking-free campus is a good idea,” said Orak. “But an even better idea is to have a convenient place—not too near but far enough from the entrance of the school to not disturb other students—for the smokers to go to have a smoke.”

If the committee suggests a complete ban on tobacco, the proposal would then go to the vice president of the business department and Luskin for approval before going to the Ventura Community College District’s Board of Trustees for the final decision.

The current smoking policy was adopted in 2005; even then many people wanted a complete ban on tobacco, Manakas said.

“I don’t know exactly when we will get a consensus,” she said. “It could be before the end of this year or next year, but I don’t want to rush and not get input from everyone concerned.” The health centers at all three Ventura County community colleges, offer programs to help students, faculty and staff members stop smoking. The Ventura County Public Health Department provides patches and gum at no cost.

In 2012, according to the American Lung Association, 19.5 percent of high school students smoked.

Over 5 percent of middle school students were smokers in 2013. Among adults who have smoked at any time, 70 percent started smoking regularly at age 18 or younger and 86 percent at age 21 or younger.

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