In a presentation at Slocum Commons on Tuesday, sophomore Jackson Foster presented his proposal to make Colorado College a smoking- and tobacco-free campus through his new organization, Smoke Free CC. This would mean that it would be against the college’s rules to smoke cigarettes, cigars, Hookah, or chew tobacco on campus.
The project is in its early phases, and at this point Foster and the rest of the organization are seeking feedback from the CC community about the possibility of eliminating tobacco on campus. “Smoke Free CC was born out of my experience growing up in Los Angeles and skateboarding every weekend at UCLA,” said Foster. “I remember cigarette butts everywhere. When UCLA went smoke-free, I saw a huge difference in the amount of cigarette butts and trash.”
Besides Foster, Heather Horton (the head of CC’s Health and Wellness Center), and Ian Johnson (Sustainability Manager) are also involved, along with a few other staff members.
Foster and the Smoke Free organization believe that CC should become smoke-free for a variety of reasons, including personal and public health, reduction of campus litter, CC’s image as an institution, and divestment from the tobacco industry. “The environmental impact of tobacco production is astounding,” said Foster in his presentation, citing statistics that smoking releases three million tons of carbon dioxide and six million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year. “I think that if we want to reach our carbon neutrality goal, banning smoking is an important part of the process.”
Because only nine people attended the meeting, it was unclear how students would react to the proposition of a smoke-free campus. One of the signs for the meeting that was hung in Taylor, however, was decorated with handwritten profanities, illustrating one possible avenue for student reactions.
Foster said that he has received a mixed bag of reactions from students. “Some people have told me that it’s a silly idea and a personal right they have to smoke; some have said that they have been wanting to quit smoking and that this rule would be a great excuse to do so,” he said.
In the presentation, the group indicated that enforcement of the new rule would be more along the lines of an honor system than any sort of punishment. However, Foster suggested that perhaps if a student were caught multiple times in a single week, they would help the grounds crew to pick up trash for a couple of hours. The new rule would be introduced incrementally, first pertaining only to 200 feet around school buildings, and shifting over the course of a few blocks to cover the entire campus.
Those who attended the presentation asked questions about whether the proposition was realistic and whether students would respect this request from the administration to change their personal habits. “We want to set up a cessation program through the Health and Wellness Center to give students and faculty resources to stop smoking,” said Horton. Several students also spoke about how smoking on campus has directly affected their living situation in the dormitories.
The presentation also discussed the perceived issue of peer pressure surrounding smoking. “It seems to me like many students feel that they cannot participate in certain social groups unless they smoke cigarettes,” said Foster. “This ban would eliminate that pressure for students.”
According to America’s Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, there are at least 1,182 smoking-free campuses nationwide, 811 of which are also tobacco-free. Among these institutions are all of the UC schools, NYU, American University, and Barnard College.
The group emphasized that this project is still in its beginning phases and that they are certainly open to feedback from the community. “You know, if 70 percent of the community doesn’t think this is a good idea, I’m more than happy to let this go,” said Foster. “This isn’t a personal vendetta for me.”