No smoking petition continues to collect signatures

Karen Thomas and Karen Thomas

Most smokers may have already noticed the new “No Smoking” signs on the concrete planter benches between Davies Hall and the math lab.

But one student continues to work tirelessly to make that message a campus-wide edict.

In an effort to follow in the footsteps of Sierra College, which became smoke-free in 2010, American River College freshman, Kate Clark has collected over 900 signatures of those supporting a smoking ban on campus. She started collecting signatures this past fall, and has added 300 since January.

“I’ve had some help from a few friends, but really, I’ve been the only one (gathering signatures),” Clark said, who spends about six hours a week out of her busy schedule to work on the non-smoking policy.

According to Associated Student Body president Craig Bundy, there isn’t a specific number of signatures needed to make ARC a smoke-free campus. Bundy will be available to work with Clark to write up the policy for ARC, which will be bundled with the petition signatures and brought before a committee of Los Rios Community College District officials in the Spring.

“Los Rios and ARC have ‘shared governance’, which means all interested parties, including students, can be present at the assembly and offer input to help the decision-making process,” said Bundy.

However, if Clark’s proposed policy doesn’t include a provision for designated smoking areas, it will be much less likely to pass, said Bundy. District policy and labor union issues must be considered before a decision can be reached.  Funding for non-smoking areas would need to be considered, and a timeline established, if the Assembly passed the policy. Accommodating the needs of each Los Rios campus is a difficult task. “One size fits all policies are tough,” Bundy said.

Students who smoke on campus generally expressed similar opinions—having to go off campus property would be very inconvenient, but most said that quitting cigarettes is already on their “to-do list.” This proposal serves as both catalyst and incentive for those wanting to get rid of their nicotine habit

ARC’s Health Center offers help with smoking cessation with one-on-one counseling, quit kits, and information for other resources such as Breathe of California, and No Butts, according to college nurse Robyn Huetter, “It’s tough, but it’s do-able.”

[email protected]