HACC’s Tobacco-free policy one year later Live Wire surveys, students share mixed reviews on smoking ban

In HACC News, Health and Wellness by Gibson Theobald

HACC Central Pennsylvania’s Community College enacted policy 375, the tobacco-free campus initiative prohibiting the use of tobacco products and all forms of nicotine consumption except nicotine cessation products on campus grounds. This policy went into effect on Aug 10, 2015.  

Before the policy was implemented, the Harrisburg Student Government Association surveyed approximately 200 students in the spring of 2014. The SGA found 61 percent of students were in favor of a tobacco-free campus.

Students were invited on many occasions to attend the board of trustees’ meetings and open forums to voice their input and concerns on the policy.

“When the tobacco policy was put in place, the college-wide SGA did not have any representative at the college-wide Wellness Committee meetings,” said Allena McCloud, Lancaster Campus SGA vice president.

After the policy went into effect, all smoking receptacles were removed from campuses. No-smoking signs were placed at the HACC Lancaster campus bus stop, table tents were placed on tables and the policy guidelines were included in new student orientation.

Safety and Security Supervisor of HACC Lancaster William Rivera said they have had limited issues with students concerning the new policy. In a statement prepared by the Office of College Advancement, Rivera said the policy was put in effect for health reasons and not because of students smoking outside of the designated smoking areas. He added, “anyone who is violating the policy is usually someone who is new to the campus.”

Despite security saying the policy is successful, students can still be seen smoking around campus grounds. The current policy states students, faculty, and visitors are not allowed to smoke or vape on all campus grounds. This also includes all vehicles parked on HACC property.

After the introduction of the smoking ban, the Union Community Bank Lancaster branch posted signs prohibiting smoking and loitering. Dawn Ruppert, the branch manager said it was a preliminary precaution in case there was something, but they have not had any issues.

In the fall of 2015, Live Wire surveyed 341 students, representing 8.5 percent of the Lancaster campus. Of all the students surveyed who responded, 63 percent supported a designated smoking area.

Gibson Theobald/Image, Joseph Elliot Miller/Statistical

Survey of 341 HACC students, taken in 2015

“I actually used to smoke and it helped me to stop smoking,” said Cerissa Brown, a business major and work-study program student. “But it would probably be a good thing for a designated place to smoke.”

Eleven percent of students support the idea of reporting and fining those in violation of the current policy.

“I am opposed to smoking; students should get fined if they violate the policy,” said John Randazzo, a general studies major and non-smoker.  

“I think if students violate the policy they should be warned, but if they keep violating it they should be fined. I believe smoking harms everyone’s health and it goes against school policy,” said Biruk Moges, a nursing major and non-smoker.

“I am opposed to smoking on campus because studies have shown that second-hand smoke has led to lung cancer, even to bystanders. I think students who violate the policy should have their GPA lowered or fined,” said Megan Spalletta-Ferrari, a humanities major and non-smoker.

“I smoke [and] I see students smoking on campus,” said Jordan Yanek, a dental hygiene major and a smoker. Yanek disagreed with the policy, “I think nothing should happen if someone violates the policy. If a homeless man can come on campus and use the facilities, somebody can smoke on campus, as long as it is not by a door.”

HACC has offered alternatives to students who are attempting to quit smoking. All campuses offered smoking cessation classes for the spring and fall semesters of 2015. At the end of the second completed class, students were eligible for free nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges. Out of the 341 students Live Wire surveyed, none participated in any smoking-cessation classes.

Currently, HACC does not have any programs available to students who are trying to quit smoking, but students can speak with counselors in the counselling and advising office for off-campus resources.

Nicotine patches are available at the campus bookstores to students ages 18 and older on all HACC campuses. Nicotine patches cost $2.25.

“We sold one patch in August,” said James Groff, the current manager of HACC Lancaster bookstore.

Students who wish to address their concerns with the policy can talk with the SGA or attend open forums with the president and vice president of the campus.

“Students should come to an SGA meeting and present their issues with the current policy,” said Allena McCloud, the SGA vice president. McCloud added that if students have further concerns with the policy they can address them with Rob Steinman, the vice president of student affairs, or speak with the wellness committee on campus.

 HACC students interested in quitting smoking can address any concerns and seek help from the following:

  • American Lung Association 800-586-4872
  • Lancaster General Hospital, wellness Center 717-5943138
  • Smokefree.gov