By Patrick Roach
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Just outside Madison Hall, a sign reading “No Smoking” is firmly planted in the ground. Not far from that sign, it has become commonplace to find a student or two tucked away in a shadowy corner, sneaking a quick cigarette in spite of campus regulations.
The smoking ban has been in effect on the Camden County College Blackwood campus since June 5, 2009, and Executive Director of Safety and Facilities Edward Carney has overseen the execution of the ban since that time. Carney naturally had a hand in implementing the ban on tobacco products; however, he worked in conjunction with other groups within the college.
“The overall input came from the president’s cabinet, students, faculty and advisement staff,” said Carney. “Overall, it was an overwhelming desire of the community for a tobacco-free policy.”
Carney said two major factors – “to promote healthy habits as an institution of higher learning and to protect students from secondhand smoke” – ultimately compelled the school to ban smoking.
Exposure to secondhand smoke is hazardous to an individual’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on the cardiovascular system that can increase the risk for heart attack and increase the risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.
Regardless of the immediate health risks, Carney acknowledged smoking is an addiction and a hard habit to kick, and for this reason he sympathizes with smokers. “It’s more about education than being punitive,” stressed Carney.
Now the question that students at CCC are asking is this: “Why not offer an alternate solution to the smoking ban?”
Second-year student Daniel Morley, while in agreement with the current policy, opined the campus should offer a designated smoking section to accommodate smokers, given it is “off the immediate campus” or walking areas.
Anthony Bonfiglio, a former smoker, agreed. “There should be a couple of designated smoking areas on campus,” stated Bonfiglio.
As to whether there was any possibility of a policy change in the future, Carney did not dismiss the idea but stated, “There is always debate, but there is no reason to change the policy at this point.”