Cigarettes, vape pens and all other tobacco related products have been banned on the Cal State Long Beach campus since last semester. Yet, while university administration is pleased with the progress being made, some students have found ways to skirt the policy.
Certain parts of campus, such as behind the design and psychology buildings, are more or less secret places where students go to smoke on campus.
Junior English education Victoria Dries said that she tries to be respectful of the ban, even though she thinks it’s ridiculous.
“I personally follow [the ban] to the best of my ability, but I’ve never been an obnoxious smoker,” she said. “Sometimes between classes when I don’t have time to walk to the streets and smoke, I definitely smoke in the hidden spots on campus not a lot of people walk around. But there’s a lot of us who sneak around. I don’t appreciate the little green shirt wearers who tell me I should get help.”
The Fresh Air Advocates, comprised of students from CSULB’s Health Science Department, frequently wear green Breathe Campaign shirts when they’re on duty. They posted information signs, hosted informational booths and removed ashtrays around campus leading up to the ban’s implementation last semester.
However, Terri Carbaugh, CSULB’s associate vice president of government and media relations, said that she was unaware of any smoking pockets on campus and that the smoking ban is viewed as a success by administration.
She credited the Breathe Campaign for its accomplishments saying that the campus community has been educated on the rules surrounding the ban and have widely been respectful of them.
The Breathe Campaign launched in the beginning of 2016 to help CSULB transition to a smoke-free campus by September 2016..
In addition to the student-driven advocacy group, the university also turned to Student Health Services to help smokers kick the habit.
Partnering with the Breathe Campaign, SHS began provided one-on-one counseling sessions to help students quit smoking, according to Health Education Assistant at SHS Allison Bordwell.
She said that since the ban’s implementation, the cessation programs have seen an increase in participation not only from students, but faculty and staff as well.
An exact number of the increase in cessation participation was not available.
Bordwell said that the cessation services offered are curtailed uniquely to the needs of the individual.
“Our services are not only for people who are looking to quit smoking completely; we can assist with tobacco management for those who are not ready to quit but want to adhere to the tobacco-free policy,” she said. “For those who do want to quit, we need to take in consideration that everyone is different, so not all quit plans look the same … Overall, we have received very positive feedback from our students, staff and faculty who have used our services.”
The decision to ban all smoking-related products on campus came in 2013, after the student body voted to approve a campus wide smoking by a 64 percent margin, according to a statement by Associated Students, Inc.
The referendum saw a record turnout, with nearly 6,500 or 19.5 percent of the student population voting.
According to Assembly Bill 846, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2004, tobacco users legally don’t have the right to expose those around them to secondhand smoke. Additionally, tobacco users don’t have protection against discrimination as other addicts do.
Cal State Fullerton was the first CSU campus to enact a smoking ban, with the campus going smoke-free in 2013 after a resolution was passed through the Academic Senate.
CSUF’s ban seems to be working as it’s rare to see someone smoking on campus, said Alex Valencio, a communication major at the university.
“From what I know, it seems to be working because I never see anyone smoking on campus,” she said. “Unless that’s just a weird coincidence, but I honestly can’t recall ever seeing anyone smoking.”
While CSUF was the first campus to adopt a ban, CSULB’s is the first ban to be approved by the student body.
However, enforcement of the ban is slowly being phased in, according to previous reports from the administration.
UPD spokesman Greg Pascal said in an email that UPD decided not to engage in enforcement for the first three years.
“While we do get phone calls from time-to-time, given that directive, we have not established a complaint type and we don’t have any way to track those calls,” he said.
However, once the policy begins being enforced, Pascal said UPD will keep a record of complaints.
“We, the police, are not out there writing citations to someone who is found smoking on campus,” Lieutenant Richard Goodwin of CSULB UPD said in an email. “If we are called to assist with a ‘smoker’ we advise them of the university policy.”
Pascal said that if someone is not smoking inside a building or within 20 feet of a doorway, then UPD refers them to the Breathe Campaign office.
The Fresh Air Advocates have estimated that it will take three years to fully phase in a completely smoke-free campus. At that point, enforcement will also be in full effect, with violators receiving citations ad fines no higher than $100 under state law.