By Jeff Cox and Linda Robredo – Cougar News Contributors
Giving smokers a permanent shelter in the parking lot would benefit both smokers and non-smokers. Smokers benefit directly from the shelter and non-smokers benefit as smokers take their butts off the campus and into the parking lot.
Approximately 10 years ago, a group of College of the Canyons students banned together and initiated a movement that would eventually bring the college to be a smoke-free campus. According to Facilities Manager, Jim Schrage, the parking lot is not officially part of the campus. Because of this, students are still permitted to smoke in the parking lots, and the campus is still technically considered to be smoke-free.
While smoking is limited to the parking lots, the problem still remains — there are no sheltered areas in the parking lots for smokers. Even Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has a smoking tent located in the inner courtyard of the State Capital, where he frequents and conducts official business of the state of California.
A smoking pavilion in the parking lot would provide a solution for smokers to congregate and be protected from the elements. In addition, a shelter from the sun and rain would assist in encouraging smokers to smoke in the designated areas, the parking lots.
Locations for a pavilion for smokers have been identified and have been in the works for over a year, said Dr. Michael Wilding, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services. Wilding said he is in fact shopping for ashtrays right now. Two parking lot locations being considered are south lot 14 and east lot 5. Wilding is considering a permanent location with concrete tables, benches, ashtrays and shelter. “With funding, I could do it in a week,” Wilding said.
A sheltered smoking area is “definitely something I would use,” said COC student and smoker Chris Bogdan. If they build it, they will come.
Cougar News journalism students conducted an unscientific poll October 14, 2009 finding 73% of all students polled agreed that a smoking tent in the parking lot would be fair and adequate shelter, and 93% of all students polled were non-smokers.
Smokers preferred East Parking Lot 5 because of the proximity to the center of campus. East Parking Lot 5 is also a safe distance from flammable hillside vegetation, decreasing the chances of fire.
Wilding stated that tougher enforcement of the smoke-free campus policy is in the near future. Providing smokers with shelter from the elements and a place to sit down and relax could be just as much of a key to achieving the goal students set out to accomplish 10 years ago, a smoke-free campus.