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Cones placed around campus to enforce 30-foot smoking rule

A sign outside of the Mills Tea Shop noting students should stand at least 30 feet away from a building when smoking. (All photos by Anna Corson)

Standing around three feet tall and bright orange, cones around campus are reminding smokers to be careful where they smoke a cigarette.

The Mills College Advisory Board had Public Safety drive around campus, placing 15 cones in various areas including in front of the Tea Shop on Apr. 4. Oakland’s Smoking and Tobacco ordinances state that smokers must light up at least 25 feet away from a building; Mills requires students to stand at least 30 feet away, the distance from the cones to the buildings. The cones will be removed before commencement on May 14.

A sign on a cone noting Mills College’s policy that smokers must stand at least 30 feet from a building when lighting up.

The decision to place cones around the school was made by the student-run Wellness Advisory Board who surveyed Mills students last April and seeing what changes they’d like to see on campus.

According to Kim Baranek, director of Wellness and Community Outreach, the group was careful to survey a wide range of people. Baranek regularly collaborates with the group.

“We started a campus-wide conversation and we realized we need to involve smokers in the conversation,” Baranek said, referring to Mills’ smoking policies.

Baranek said that ideally, the campus would have 19 designated smoking areas complete with benches and ashtrays. She said this wouldn’t happen immediately, though, since each station would cost around $4000, with the money coming from ASMC.

The Wellness Advisory Board previously placed cones around campus last spring.

According to Baranek, Mills is hoping to place permanent metal signs as a less expensive way to designate smoking areas. Until then, Baranek said she thought the cones were effective, noticing that students have already started abiding the 30-foot rule.

Patrice Scanlon, Technical Director of Mills’ Intermedia Arts Program, smoking a cigarette 30 feet away from Adams Plaza.

“People typically smoke on the rail next to the steps in Adams Plaza, but I saw people smoking on the lawn instead of next to people eating,” Baranek said. “It was awesome.”

Still, Baranek said that it can be difficult to enforce the rule. There have been discussions with Public Safety about making sure students keep their distance from buildings when lighting up.

“We’ve been trying to strategize about how do we try to make smokers comply with the policy,” Baranek said.

Sophomore Lucy Raisch said she thought the cones were helpful to note how far 30 feet is. A smoker herself, Raisch said she’s careful when having a cigarette, noting her distance from buildings as well as people.

“Some people are rude and practically blow smoke into non-smokers faces,” Raisch said. “I personally have smokers courtesy, so I try not to invade the non-smoking student body’s space.”

The cones placed outside of buildings including the music building and Natural Sciences Building, are literally 30 feet away, noted by the measuring tape above.

Biology student KC Callender said while she thought while the cones were effective, she thought they could be a little less prominent.

“I think they don’t need to be placed in the middle of the walkway as many of them are now,” said biology major KC Callender. “However, as an ex-smoker on campus I know I always had trouble distinguishing exactly what 30 feet was because everyone eyed it differently. So now at least there’s a common 30 ft for people to abide by.”

Callender said she thought the appropriate distance could be labeled differently.

“I think having ashtrays or something off to the side instead of orange cones in the middle of the walkway would be better.”