By Kristin Seigeldorf

CCC Journalism Program

The latest buzz circulating at Camden County College’s three campuses is the tobacco-free policy.

On Jan. 1, 2010, Blackwood, Cherry Hill, and Camden campuses implemented the policy, hoping to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and providing a cleaner, healthier environment to CCC students, employees, and visitors.

Students who fail to abide by the tobacco-free policy face a $25 fine for a single offense.  If caught after their first offense, they face a fine of up to $50 and could be referred to the Dean of Students, who could impose disciplinary action. .

The tobacco ban has created a buzz amongst students, leaving some happier than others.

Christina Czyzewicz, a non-smoker, likes the ban. “I like that I can walk around and breathe freely,” she said. “I don’t like walking outside and being greeted by a big cloud of smoke.”

Justin Lynch, another student, has been fined $75 for smoking on campus.

“I think the ban is overly enforced,” Lynch said.

Lynch feels an alternative to the smoking ban would be assigning designated areas or gazebos 50 feet from doorways where smokers can enjoy a cigarette.

Steve Hetherington, assistant director of the Public Safety Department, feels students take the ban seriously and have complied.

He said he believes the policy was implemented fairly and correctly.

“Truth is, if you’re alone and discreet no one will track you down,” Hetherington said.

The policy was instituted by the CCC Board of Trustees to be enforced by public safety.

“We’re not the fun police,” Hetherington said, “We’re here to protect the students and college.”  Since the ban was implemented, Hetherington said close to $1,000 in fines have been paid to the college.

Asked what his reaction to students’ ideas to designate smoking only sections on campus, Hetherington said, “I’ve given it some thought.  The theory of designated areas is sound and reasonable, however, in my experience they become hangouts with no regards to anything.”

Victoria DiLorenzo, a student at CCC, is a non-smoker who feels a designated area would be a good idea because smokers would have a place to smoke on campus without penalty and wouldn’t clutter outside doors.

Other non-smokers aren’t as open to the idea of smoking only sections on campus.

Czyzewicz doesn’t think there should be designated areas.  “I think it will draw a bad crowd and encourage kids to smoke on campus,” she said.

“The overlying factor is safety,” states Hetherington, “It educates young people not to smoke.”

For more information on the new tobacco-free institution policy visit http://www.camdencc.edu/tobaccofree/index.htm.

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