Campus adapts to smoking ban


Sonoma State University officially went smoke free July 1, and the campus community has been trying to adapt ever since. The policy includes smokeless tobacco and e-cigarette products, such as vapor cigarettes, and extends to off-campus sites under university ownership or control, which includes Sonoma State’s nature preserves.  

“The challenge for campus adaptation at this point is to ensure that students, staff, and visitors are fully aware that SSU is now 100 percent smoke and tobacco free,” said Georgia Schwartz, director of student health. “It seems that most people who are aware of the details of the policy are trying to comply.”

Schwartz also said she has been told by the Student Health Advisory Committee and some staff that there’s still some confusion on campus because they see some people smoking in parking lots and campus wooded areas. This exposes others to the health risks of secondhand smoke, she said, creates a fire risk, and undermines the campus community’s ability to support health and well-being she said. Suggestions have been made to increase the number of signs to more consistently convey to message to students, employees, and visitors that the policy applies to 100 percent of the campus.

Sonoma State does not have an ordinance, so Police Services cannot and will not ticket individuals who are smoking. The policy is being enforced similarly to other universities that have adopted  the same policy. The first offense will result in a warning, however, repeat offenders will be required to speak with a campus official, and students who violate the policy will be referred to Student Affairs.  Employees who violate the policy will be referred to their supervisor or manager, human resources or faculty affairs. Visitors who violate the policy will be referred to University Affairs.

Since the policy is so new, the departments in charge are still allowing the campus a grace period to adjust. The university is not tracking statistics on how many people have violated the policy. Their hope is that people will comply with the new policy.

However, the university may begin to collect data for statistics after Jan. 1, 2016.  

“The initiative for the ban was brought forward by students, but got stalled for almost two years because of the need to take it through the meet and confer process with employee unions on campus,” said Tammy Kenber, chief human resources officer.

“I am glad they passed the smoking ban; it is frustrating to walk to class and have to inhale other people’s smoke,” said Freshman Daisy Agers,

Sonoma State became one of the first CSU campuses to become smoke and tobacco free. There are three other CSUs who are also smoke, tobacco and e-cigarette free including San Diego State, CSU Fullerton and San Jose State. There are several other CSUs with smoke-free policies being developed, and Santa Rosa Junior College has been smoke and tobacco free since 2009.