Smoking banned on EvCC campus

EVERETT — Students and staff at Everett Community College will no longer be able to smoke or chew tobacco on campus beginning this fall — even inside their own cars.

The school’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted Tuesday to ban the use, sale and advertisement of all tobacco products on campus, effective Sept. 1.

“Colleges all over the country are doing this same thing,” board member Gigi Burke said. “The main concern is for the health of students and staff, and the cleanliness of the campus.”

Smoking inside public places is already banned statewide.

The policy the board approved goes further, banning the use of any tobacco product outdoors, including in areas previously designated for smoking.

That includes inside vehicles parked in campus lots.

Campus police who catch people with a cheek full of chaw or a lit cigarette can issue $20 citations for each violation.

Repeat offenders may face disciplinary action, said Pat Sisneros, vice president of College Services.

The policy also prohibits the sale of tobacco products and merchandise, ads for such products and sponsorship of campus events by organizations that promote tobacco use.

That ban extends to a college-owned strip mall acquired during a land swap with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett a few years ago.

Officials have decided against renewing the lease of one private business, the Smoke Shop, in the College Plaza Shopping Center, 1001 N. Broadway.

The school also expects the ban likely will push at least some smokers to the edge of campus onto city sidewalks. Although the policy says tobacco use isn’t allowed along the perimeter of campus, the college can’t stop students and staff from stepping onto public sidewalks to light up.

Sisneros said he doubts many smokers will cross the street to stand in front of the private homes located nearby.

“We’ve promised the neighborhood association we will be diligent about keeping those areas cleaned up,” he said.

In a 2009 survey of EvCC faculty, staff and students, nearly 60 percent of students surveyed favored a smoking ban on campus.

Just under 500 students responded. Ten percent of the student respondents identified themselves as smokers and another 8 percent described themselves as an “occasional smoker.”

In the 2011-12 academic year, the college educated 21,274 people. The school has more than 600 employees, including faculty, staff, administrators and part-time faculty.

EvCC shared information about the proposed ban with students via the college newspaper and class schedule and with neighbors at a Northwest Neighborhood Association meeting, Sisneros said.

The policy makes Everett the fourth community college statewide to adopt a total tobacco ban. The others are Clark College, Lower Columbia College and South Puget Sound Community College.

Edmonds Community College still allows smoking in designated areas and kiosks across campus, said college spokeswoman Michele Graves.

More public colleges are adopting tobacco bans nationwide.

Officials in Ohio, Missouri, California, and New York are considering or have already passed measures banning tobacco use on college campuses.

Debra Smith: 425-339-3197; dsmith@heraldnet.com.

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