CCBC tobacco ban part of larger trend in schools

The Community College of Baltimore County plans to snuff out tobacco use on its campuses starting July 1, continuing a trend already found at many other schools in the Baltimore area.

Once the policy goes into effect, the school will permit the use of tobacco products only inside private vehicles, on college parking lots outside of the perimeter roadway or within designated kiosks stationed along the roadway.

Tobacco users found outside those areas on the Catonsville, Essex or Dundalk campuses within the first six months of the ban will receive a verbal and written warning, said Hope Davis, a spokeswoman for the school.

After Jan. 1, a violation will result in a $35 citation, she said.

"We think it's something that's really good for the college community," Davis said. "We're hoping to move toward smoke-free and make a better environment for everybody."

Prior to July 1, tobacco use was restricted to a minimum of 25 feet away from school buildings, Davis said.

The new policy does not affect the school's satellite locations in Hunt Valley, Owings Mills, Randallstown or Ridge Road, where the 25-foot minimum is in place.

The college, which has more than 70,000 students, will offer cessation classes in the fall at each of the school's campuses, Davis said.

The school has partnered with the Baltimore County Department of Health to allow for faculty and staff to attend these classes even if it occurs during their working hours, Davis said.

When asked for a reaction to the new policy, Davis said that it's hard to gauge before the policy goes into affect.

"I haven't heard a lot of negativity about the policy yet," Davis said. "But I don't know that it has hit people. We'll probably know a little bit more after July 1 and students come back full force in the fall."

Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Maryland chapter of the American Cancer Society, called the ban of tobacco products at schools "likely a growing trend" among colleges and universities in the area.

She used Towson University as an example of a college that has banned the use of tobacco products on campus. Towson instituted its ban in August 2010, prohibiting smoking in all buildings and all exterior grounds owned or operated by the university.

"It's an encouraging sign every time another campus decides to do this," Stearns-Elliott said. "It's a growing trend and you do hear more and more on banning."

Stearns-Elliott said the American Cancer Society doesn't keep statistics on the number of institutions that ban the use of tobacco.

Tobacco usage or secondhand smoke contributes to a third of all cancers, she said.

Of the 160,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States, Stearns-Elliott said 3,400 non-smoking adults die from the disease because of secondhand smoke.

In 2008, theUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County, adopted a policy which prevented smoking within 20 feet of all building openings, including entryways, windows and ventilation intake systems.

Elyse Ashburn, a spokeswoman for UMBC, said that smoking is also prohibited in the patio area outside the Commons and on the school's "main street" area which runs from the library to the adjacent street, which has the Recreational Activity Center.

Ashburn said that signs denote areas where smoking is permitted.

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