Sampson Community College has been a tobacco-free campus for the last three years, but beginning fall semester, the college’s tobacco policy will slightly change.
The new policy will allow the use of any tobacco product in designated areas, but will continue to be prohibited in campus buildings, on campus grounds, in college vehicles or at any college-sponsored event.
“While we support the overall goal of the tobacco-free policy, administering that policy continues to be a problem for us,” SCC president Dr. Bill Starling explained.
According to the current policy, “Sampson Community College is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment in which people can learn and work. As an expression of this commitment, effective August 10, 2015, the college is designated a ‘tobacco-free campus’, defined as free of all tobacco products. The use of any tobacco product (to include electronic cigarettes or vapor devices) is prohibited in campus buildings, on campus grounds, in college vehicles, or at any college-sponsored event.”
The policy is one we embrace, but it is interfering with our ability to be an effective educational institution,” Starling said.
Following the current policy, students and staff are forced to travel off campus to smoke or partake in tobacco products. For those who don’t follow the policy and chance getting caught, disciplinary action looms.
Looking at surrounding community colleges, Starling explained while they say they are “tobacco-free”, many of them allow the use of tobacco products in designated areas.
Chick Gancer, with the Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians, expressed the concern of the local group three years ago when the policy was adopted, and once again contacted Starling regarding changing the policy. Starling asked the trustees to review the policy change and take time to consider all concerns before taking a final vote.
In 2015, the Sampson Community College Board of Trustees voted and in a split 5-3 vote, sided in favor of making the college campus a tobacco-free environment. At the time, discussion indicated the logistics of the policy still needed to be hashed out. Administration visited the idea again during the April meeting, explaining that those logistics are hindering staff from focusing on their top priorities and forcing students to sneak and find ways to fulfill their nicotine fix.
At the time of the policy’s passing, trustee’s were concerned about the student population being that of an older generation and blue-collar. Compounding that, Sampson also has an agricultural background steeped in the growing of tobacco, a point often broached in any talks concerning a transition to smoke-free status. Similar smoke-free moves have been made in recent years by Sampson County and Sampson Regional Medical Center.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.