Empty laws

The smoking policy at Pierce College appears to be a rule students and employees take as the law of the land.

But there is one major problem with that. It’s not a law.

The campus’ smoking policy is just that — a policy that started one year after being revamped by the Workforce Environment Committee.

It’s not a finable offense. It’s not any kind of infraction of the law.

Punishments, at worst, involve the apathetic smoker being given a stern lecture from a Sheriff’s officer or a random individual who happens to be passing by. The awkward moment lasts for a short time until one of the two walks away while the smoker continues to smoke.

It is preposterous to try to enforce a smoking policy with only nine “official” smoking areas to cover a campus that rivals the size of University of California, Los Angeles.

According to Doreen Clay, Pierce’s public relations officer, the most recent version of the map was printed before anyone was able to label the two additional locations: the first-floor patio outside the Library, and the northeast end of the Fine Arts Building.

Most people know of the dangers of second-hand smoke, the risks of cancer and lung disease, so smokers should be aware of the required L.A.-city restriction preventing them from smoking within 20 feet of any building.

Many smokers already ignore the current policy while walking to classes or relaxing at a nearby place to sit. Cigarette butts liter the grounds in areas unofficially deemed as “too far” from the nearest smoking area. 

Pierce President Robert Garber said the smoking policy has been recently lax due to the major renovations on campus.

But that does not explain the lack of enforcement in the months prior to construction.

“Normally an individual would be asked to stop or move, and it usually ends there,” Garber said about smokers not smoking in the designated areas. But according to him, if repeated offenses occur, then it can be taken as a violation of the student conduct policy, a result of which the student could be suspended.

But it rarely gets that far.

Maybe it should.

If a campus is going to go through with a policy that punishes smokers for doing what they do anywhere other than the small campus-provided picnic tables, then do it.

The smoking policy was created to make Pierce a healthier and more beautiful place.

Fine students for smoking away from the shade of the forest-green umbrellas, but at the same time, make these spots more accessible for the general campus population. With the money received, put it back into campus development.

(Raquel Martinez / Special to the Roundup)

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