College of San Mateo smokers confined to car lots 

Smokers on the College of San Mateo campus will need to walk a little farther before they can light up next school year.

A new school policy that will require smokers to remain in parking lots will go into effect this fall, according to college officials. The move was made for better enforcement of smoking policies and for health concerns.

Jennifer Hughes, vice president of student affairs at CSM, said though some students feel it is an inconvenience, others are receptive to the idea.

“Some believe it is a health issue that should be addressed as well,” she said. “But it’s also enforcement. No campus will have sufficient enforcement to intercept smoking outside designated zones that are spread throughout campus.”

Hughes said the smoking task force had been working on a change to the policy for the past year. The decision to move designated smoking areas to the parking lots came out of student surveys and task force discussions.

The cost to change the designated areas — which are currently scattered throughout campus and are typically 20 feet from doorways and windows — will be minimal thanks to social media.

“We have the ability to send e-mails and update Facebook and Twitter with the change,” she said. “The cost will come if we decide to put shelters up.”

Hughes said when the designated zones were created on campus a number of years ago, the committee had looked at shelters then, but the cost was too much. She said shelters will be discussed again for parking lots, but it is unknown if any will be purchased.

“We’ll have to move benches and urns,” she said. “And change written policies, but overall, there is not much cost.”

Hughes said the change will help security enforce the smoking policy better than the current designated areas.

Disciplinary action can be taken against students who repeatedly violate the policy, Hughes said. But she said no disciplinary action has happened as a result of smoking violations.

Skyline College implemented a similar policy in the fall of 2009. Golda Gacutan, administrative secretary for the vice president of student services, said students have adjusted to using the parking lot zones.

“It was just a matter of informing them of the policy,” she said. “We had signs limiting smoking to 20 feet, but people didn’t take to it as well as the new policy. They are just more receptive with this.”

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