Tyler Junior College smokers need not worry about the smoking ban recently passed by the City of Tyler, students and facility will still be allowed to smoke on campus – for now.
“Currently our requirements are 50 feet (away from buildings)”, said Fred Peters, director of marketing and public information, “which is a little more stringent than the new ordinance, which is 20 feet.”
Passed by the Tyler City Council on Feb.6, the new ordinance focused on businesses like restaurants and bars and any public place that is an enclosed space, but there are exemptions. One specific exemption is that of “Facilities and property” as worded in the ordinance, “otherwise defined…educational institution(s).”
The new requirements will not go into effect until June 1. As far as TJC is concerned, only small changes to the TJC handbook will be made. There is also a possibility of some new signs. While there are still decisions by organizations such as the Student Senate to be made, like having more designated smoking areas, students are likely to see very few changes on campus.
Officials said smoking has not been much of a problem on campus thus far in the school’s history. “We have not really experienced any problems in the past with smokers, maybe 1 or 2 a year, but students always comply to objections,” said Randy Melton director of campus safety. While some students strongly agree with the smoking ban, to a few it is a non-issue.
“If there weren’t places I could go where I wouldn’t be exposed to smoke then, yeah, it would bother me, but there are so it doesn’t matter,” said sophomore Billi Hawkins.
But sophomore Ashley Runnels disagrees.
“Sometimes I think that government bodies go too far with restrictions. I am a non-smoker, but I feel as an adult I should have the choice to smoke if it is in an appropriate place like a restaurant with a bar. It is a simple freedom that we have had for years,” she said.
The penalty set by this new city ordinance off campus is up to $300 for a first offense and up to $500 for anybody who has had prior offensives. Currently there is no set penalty on campus.