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Smoking on Campus Ignites Heated Student Debate

Mills College Weekly

Smokers and non-smokers alike are demanding administrative attention to the facilities available to campus smokers after a debate on student-news raised questions and concerns.  

The debate centered around Adams Plaza, designated as a smoke-free area, and where to draw the line between respecting the rights of students to smoke on campus, and the rights of non-smokers to avoid cigarette smoke.  In response, tentative plans have been made for a smoking area for students to enjoy a cigarette break while simultaneously keeping Adams Plaza legal and smoke free.

"I shouldn't have to breathe smoke while walking through Adam Plaza., a place where everyone should be to hang out," said junior Stacia Mills, who participated in the student-news debate.

Karen Maggio, Assistant Vice President for Business Affairs, who is in charge of campus facilities, recognizes the needs of students with asthma, illness or simply wish to avoid cigarette smoke, such as Mills.

Adam Plaza was not designed for smokers, according to Maggio, which is why signs hang in the area forbidding smoking.

"Ever since Adam Plaza was designed it was meant to be a place for all students, and this to me means a smoke free enviornment," Maggio said.

Even if this were not the case, smoking on Adams Plaza would be liminted to a small area of the patio, due to a California state law that prohibits smoking within 30 feet of an entryway and the fact that the plaza is surrounded by doors to various buildings.

"If there are signs that say no smoking then there should be no smoking in this area."  Mills said.  "It's just inconsiderate to disobey that rule."

Sophmore Jessia King, a smoker who voiced her opinion in the student-news debate, pointed out the irony that below many of these signs stand ashtrays.

"It's very misleasding to have ashtrays in places where you can't smoke," King said.

She added that the common areas of campus where smoking is allowed, such as the lawn between Warren Olney and Orchard Meadow dormitories, have not been equipped with ashtrays and are covered in cigarette butts.

"I'd like to see more a more central area that's protected from the weather designed for smokers," King said.  "It should be more clrea what you shouldn't put your trah in the ashtrays because it creates a fire hazard,"

King would like to see administrative attention brought to the matter, possibly in the form of a town hall meeting.

Maggio has been taken matters into her own hands, mobing tables, benches and ashtrays on and around Adams Plaza herself. She said she moved an ashtray that was within 10 feet of the Tea Shop entry to the legal distance of 30 feet away but one hour later it had been returned.

Maggio encourages students to contact her administrative assistant,Pat Ernesto, to have the ashtrays properly places.  She also acknowledged the fact that it is easy to move the ashtrays back to an illegal location but its currently unsure of how to reconcile the problem.

"People should have the choice to smoke but they should smoke in a place where it is appropriate,"  Maggio said.

For this reason, she has tentative places to create an offical smoking patio behind the Tea Shop and next to the Prieto Multimedia Lab.

"This way we're providing similar services for our smokers," Maggio said.

She also hopes to start a detailed publicity campaign to inform students of the rules for smokers to abide by on campus.

"It's not like we don't care, it's just that sometimes we don't take the time to take action," she said.  "Sometimes it takes the student voice to get things started."