Let’s “Clear the Air”

by Winnie Blackwood

A task force, Clear the Air, has been created at FM in order to address smoking and tobacco use, as well as with the goal to make the campus tobacco-free in the future.
According to FM’s smoking policy tobacco use is permitted outside of the college in designated spots and prohibited in all of the college’s buildings.

The policy also states, “For the purpose of this policy, tobacco is defined as any type of tobacco product including, but not limited to, cigarettes (commercial, handmade, electronic), cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs, oral tobacco (spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff), vaping, or any other smoking material or device.”

Lead by Lisa Herider, secretary to the Vice President for Administration and Finance, the task force as of right now has distributed anonymous surveys to staff, faculty, administration and students at FM through the website Survey Monkey.

This will allow Herider and the task force to better understand and determine what the best policy for FM is. The survey was also created to hear from both sides of the issue concerning tobacco use and attitudes toward it.
“One of the things that we really want to emphasize is that we’re respecting others and the environment. We all know that smoking is an addiction; it doesn’t make them bad people,” Herider said.

Other elements of the project the task force is working on includes activities that will educate individuals about smoking and secondhand smoke and treatments to help those addicted. The project received a grant from Truth Initiative.

Imran Suhail, chairman of the Student Senate Association and a former cigarette smoker, who now uses a vape pen, said this is a mental and physical issue. He believes FM shouldn’t focus on becoming a tobacco-free campus, but instead on helping those beat the addiction.

Mallory Houghton, a student at FM and a non-smoker, on the other hand said, “I think it would be better for everyone involved, making it so that people can’t smoke here.”

Herider and Suhail agree, though, the three designated smoker spots need to be moved. Two are located by the library, with the other by the day care. Another problem is if they are actually being used and the litter of cigarette butts.

“People smoke on the walkway. That’s the real problem. It’s not the fact that we have a problem with our smoking areas…[T]he huts are pointed towards the doors, when they should be pointing the opposite way,” Suhail said of the smoking huts near the library.

Robert Richardson, deputy of Public Safety and a smoker himself, said he doesn’t have a problem when he asks individuals smoking to move to the designated areas.

After a warning or two, Suhail said there should be a penalty or a fine if someone isn’t complying.

According to Herider, if it is determined the task force wants to go ahead with making FM a tobacco-free campus after compiling all the data by the end of the year, the next step would be to go to FM’s President Dr. Dustin Swanger and the Board of Trustees. This could take another year.

The anonymous survey is available to those willing to take it until March 17.

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