Skyline looks to clear the air 

Smokers may be pushed to the outskirts of campus at Skyline College, the latest in a larger effort by a student advocacy group to eradicate secondhand smoke from college campuses.

Dozens of Skyline students showed up Thursday to a screening of the 2005 movie "Thank You For Smoking" before expressing their desire to designate two parking lots along the perimeter of campus as smoking areas.

The campaign is spearheaded by Smoke-Free San Mateo County Advocates, a group of students who are taking their message beyond schools. One recent target was the San Mateo Farmers Market, which has banned smoking.

The current policy at Skyline forbids smoking indoors and within 20 feet of entrance doors. The advocacy group believes the Skyline college council will consider the designated areas at the end of the school year.

On Wednesday, the College of San Mateo council similarly agreed to adopt a new smoking policy that will decide, at a later time, designated areas for smoking.

"We’re not telling them they can’t smoke," said Amy Windley, co-president of Advocates and a former smoker.

Brian Daniel, a Skyline faculty member who teaches public health, said secondhand smoke, and not smokers, is the target.

"A lot of these buildings with all of the traffic that goes in and out—the smoke is still there as you walk," he said. "It would be nice to have a smoke-free campus. But if we have to co-exist, this is a really big step."

Jonny Wong, 26, a Skyline student from San Francisco, said confining smokers to parking lots is unfair.

"We already understand that we can’t smoke within 20 feet of doors," the nine-year smoker said. "But only parking lots? That’s too far. We’re all outdoors already anyway. They might smell it, but we aren’t blowing it in their faces."

At CSM, the administration will begin forming designated areas. Faculty member Tom Diskin, who sits on the college council, said the idea of designated areas was a "campus-wide consensus."

"Personally, I saw this situation as an equality issue," he said "Even though the smokers seem to be in the minority, I felt very strongly that they should have their own nice area and not in the back parking area standing in the rain."

Other campuses that have similar designated areas include Foothill College in Los Altos and San Francisco State University. Cañada College in Redwood City does not have a smoking policy, but would consider one if students bring up the issue, Cañada spokesman Robert Hood said.

bfoley@examiner.com

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