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Wellness Action Group hosts forum on campus smoking policy

Flier for the Wellness Action Group's Open Forum discussing smoking on campus.
Flier for the Wellness Action Group’s Open Forum discussing smoking on campus.

Mills’ Wellness Action Group recently held a public forum called “Smoking on Campus” on March 5. The purpose of the forum was to continue the discussion of possibly modifying the smoking policy. Currently, smoking is allowed anywhere on campus as long as it is 30 feet away from building entrances, with the exception of the art building and Children’s school.

At the public forum, Laurel James, a member of the Wellness Action Group, gave a presentation about smoking and its risks followed by breaking up the 14 attendees into two discussion groups. In the discussion groups, attendees talked about their experiences and thoughts about smoking on campusThe discussion included how to make it clear where smoking is and is not allowed on campus.

Annie Neves, academic coordinator and executive assistant to the dean education, thinks that it can be unclear where smoking is and is not allowed.

“[It would be] less of a problem if we had more signage,” Neves said.

Kelsey Roads, a sophomore at Mills and a former smoker, agrees that it can be hard to know where smoking is allowed and thinks that smoking is a problem on campus.

“My opinion is that any smoking is a problem,” Rhoads said.

Rhoads and Neves both agree that there has been a lack of enforcement.

Anne Staunton, manager of wellness and community outreach, thinks that an important part of being able to enforce where smoking is allowed is by having a culture at Mills where people tell others if they are smoking in a non-designated smoking area.

“[We need] a culture that everyone is behind,” Staunton said. “Redefine [the] culture, then everyone participates.” 

Staunton thinks that it is important to consider how both smokers and non-smokers may be affected if there is a change to the smoking policy.

“[We want to] protect [the] rights of people who do smoke and don’t smoke,” Staunton said.

Linda Zitzner, assistant vice president for operations, discussed other concerns about cigarettes such as how cigarette butts contaminate water ways. 

An idea discussed at the forum was the possibility of having specific areas for smoking, such as the visitor’s parking lot on Richards road as well as some areas that would be convenient for students who live on campus.

Staunton also thinks that there should be more conversation about the smoking policy and that Trustees, the Dean of Students and the Provost should be engaging more students into this conversation.

Neves said that she was surprised about the lack of conversation about smoking on campus.

“[It] blows my mind that we don’t have this conversation here at Mills,” Neves said.

James thinks that conversation about the smoking policy at Mills should continue.

“[I] think we intend to, but realize that this is not the main issue,” James said. “[It is] not a conversation that we stop having.”

No current smokers were available for comment in this article.

The Mills Action Wellness Group will have more forums in the future to further discuss alcohol, tobacco and drug use; however, an upcoming date has not been set.