The small green signs that read “Smoking Area” around campus may not be long for Fresno State—or any other California State University.
Chancellor Timothy P. White and the CSU’s Academic Senate have proposed that by the end of the year all the system’s campuses should be smoke free. On Aug. 1, Cal State Fullerton was the first CSU campus to ban smoking throughout the entire campus.
In a resolution put forth by the Academic Senate in March of last year, officials argued that the CSU should not be promoting the use of tobacco products by students, faculty, and staff.
The Academic Senate also argued that the decision would be in line with previous decisions made by the chancellor’s office. In 1993, Executive Order 599 prohibited smoking in all CSU buildings and leased space. In 2005, Executive Order 966 prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages at any athletic event held in university owned or operated facilities and limited alcohol advertising to beer and wine.
During a Sept. 27 teleconference with student media, White said he doesn’t want to antagonize staff, faculty and students who smoke, but he wants an educational process to help people break the habit.
“The idea isn’t to force them off campus and take a couple puffs and come back to work,” White said. “The evidence is smoking is no longer an individual sport. The exhale is harmful to others and that’s the basis by which we can say a person’s personal right to make choices is overridden by a health concern.”
Neil O’Brien, Associated Students, Inc. senator for health and human services, said when he ran for election he would oppose any ban on smoking.
“They can pick a minority of people that they say have a bad habit,” O’Brien said. “If they want to improve health they should focus on obesity. There’s a small group of people on campus who smoke. They should address the fact we have a Taco Bell on campus. They should focus on dining on campus. This has little to do with health. This is government feeling they can tell you how to live.”
White said in the teleconference he hopes students don’t switch to chewing tobacco just to get a nicotine fix. The goal, he said, is to get people to quit using tobacco all together.
O’Brien said the dangers of smoking are well known. He also said that people know the risks of eating unhealthy food every day on campus, but it’s a personal choice.
“There’s so few people who smoke [on campus],” O’Brien said. “They are choosing the wrong fight to fight. There are a million problems on any campus to address. This is nothing.”
O’Brien said the current system, with designated smoking areas, works. People who don’t want to be affected by second-hand smoke can avoid those areas.
No final decision has been made, but White said a panel has been put together to determine the feasibility of the idea.
“There is a group working on this and thinking it through,” White said. “There is a cost associated with it as well. We have to figure out how to fund it. A lot of America is moving toward smoke-free environments. We should be one of them.”