Community college bans smoking

Thursday, July 27, 2006

COTTLEVILLE, Mo. -- Starting next year, cigarettes are off limits at St. Charles Community College.

The college board of trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to ban tobacco effective Jan. 1.

"Everyone will reap the benefits of a healthier and safer atmosphere in which to learn and work," said James Benedict, vice president for student services.

Smokers weren't happy, calling the policy too far-reaching.

"I don't think that's very fair," Stephanie Schroeder, 27, of Overland, said. "I think they should have a designated smoking area and not make us go to our cars."

Under the policy, tobacco use will be completely prohibited on the 235-acre campus, though Benedict said the policy will not be enforced inside private cars. No specific fine is listed for smoking on campus.

Benedict said college officials, rather than focus on enforcement, will politely ask smokers not to use tobacco. Only if someone repeatedly defies such requests would they be subject to punishment, Benedict said.

A recent campus task force recommended the ban to the board and estimated an $11,700 cost for educational materials, classes and other preparations. The recommendation followed U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona's report that breathing any amount of tobacco smoke can be harmful.

Student Meghan Lang, 24, of St. Peters, said simpler steps such as moving ashtrays away from doors could have helped keep nonsmokers away from tobacco.

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