The passing of the non-smoking policy last semester still has smokers in an uproar. Standing in the street to smoke a cigarette is not only dangerous to the smoker, but also to anyone driving on that particular street.
Smokers around TJC have wondered and complained among themselves as to why the school did not set up any designated smoking areas.
“I’ve gone to UT Austin to tour the campus and they had designated places to smoke,” said Jacob Downs, sophomore and smoker.
The concerns, however, were making sure that the students respect the school grounds.
“The problems with the smoking areas that the Student Senate talked about was the enforcement of getting the students to use the areas, clean up of the area because even when we had ashtrays on the campus, students would still throw their butts on the ground,” said M’Liss Hindman, President of the Faculty Senate.
There were also health issues concerning the non-smoking students and those with medical conditions.
“For people with asthma, you would have to put the areas so far away, that it wouldn’t affect them. Then the areas are not covered from the elements so you would have the expense of covering them. These all contributed to the Student Senate making the campus completely non-smoking,” said Hindman.
Instead of having the students throwing their cigarette butts on school property, they have started throwing them on public and private property.
Rudy’s restaurant located beside the TJC West campus had to put no smoking signs on their property due to the amount of butts being thrown onto their property.
Designated smoking areas could put an end to this, but what about keeping the non-smokers away from them.
“People that don’t smoke still hang around while we smoke. That is their choice. Nobody put a gun to their head, so why complain,” said Phyllis Sanders, sophomore.
The smokers have found ways around the non-smoking policy to help keep them safe. Standing on the sidewalk beside the Tyler Museum of Art, which is public property, and the small brick area in front of the Pirtle Tech building, where some TJC maintenance employees have placed small ashtrays to keep butts off the ground.
The social interaction between smokers has increased because of these small areas of safety where they enjoy their smokes.
“I have actually met more people in this little area than I have in my classrooms,” said Downs
The smokers look to be a tight group. Borrowing lighters and cigarettes from others can start a conversation. The passing of the non-smoking policy has brought the smokers closer together.
“How many of the students on the senate are smokers? Have they put themselves in our place?” asks Sanders.
The safety of the smokers is centered more on their health from smoking.
“It would concern me with someone standing out in the street to smoke a cigarette, particularly if it was Fifth street. I would personally be concerned about anyone who smoked, for obvious health reasons,” said Clint Roxburgh, President of the Board of Trustees.
And as for the smokers safety when standing in the streets, decisions about smoking areas are the same. Smokers want them, while the senate and board look at it for the health of non-smokers and not so much for the safety of the smoker.
“You got to protect everyone’s rights, but your talking about a very small number of people that choose to do that,” said Roxburgh.
Anyone wishing to start a petition to allow smoking areas need only speak to the Student Senate.