Leaving the Smoke Behind


Henry Ponder

President of AACC, Dr. Dawn Lindsay and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rev. Dr. Diane Dixon-Proctor are both very excited about the passing of the Non-Smoking Policy.

Jaso Bolay, Reporter

The Non-Smoking Policy was passed on Jan. 13 at the first Board of Trustees meeting of the new year.

“We’re really happy that it was passed,” said Kenneth Jarvis, president of the Faculty Organization. “We’ve been working on it for the past two years.”

The Non-Smoking Policy was originally brainstormed by the TFO and the Student Association and after much discussion, it was brought forth to the students, staff and faculty members in the spring of 2014. Surveys were passed out to the masses and tallied.

The SA and the TFO quickly realized that the majority of the student body were in support with the idea of revising AACC’s smoking policy.

AACC’s former smoking policy disallowed any indoor smoking on campus. It also required that smoking be 25 feet away from the entranceways to any college building.

The newly approved Non-Smoking Policy prohibits the use and promotion of all “tobacco, tobacco products, tobacco substitutes and tobacco delivery devices on all college-owned or managed properties.”

“It’s a step in the right direction” Chris Pineda, president of the Student Association and one of the pioneers of this new development said as he thanked the Board of Trustees shortly after the members unanimously voted in favor of the Non-Smoking Policy.

“We’re one of the last community colleges in Maryland to ban smoking,” said Pineda. “A lot of the institutions in Maryland have already, and a lot of students are in favor of it as well. There are always going to be people who are against it but it’s something that’s worth having.”

The Non-Smoking Policy will be put into action on July 1, 2015. In between now and then, the administrators of AACC are hoping to use that time to inform the student body about the change.

At the beginning of the fall semester, rumors were circling through the halls of the jumpstarting of a soft launch on Jan. 1, 2015. With many faculty members and students still uninformed of the policy, the Board of Trustees decided to hold off.

“We decided that to we’d do a soft launch in the spring instead of the fall,” said Dr. Dawn Lindsay, the president of AACC. “We figured that it’ll be easier [because] at least then we’ll have a lot of the returning students who can give the knowledge to the new students.”

With the majority of the student body still fairly unaware of the Non-Smoking Policy, the new goal is to let them know.

“Rather than not know how many students would be returning for fall,” Lindsay said, “we figured spring was a good time to pilot it [and] a good time to launch it. A good time to figure out if we missed something or not. That way, if anything goes wrong, it’ll give us time to react to it.”

Although this is a huge step for AACC, many feel as though it is a step that they’ve been holding off for too long.

“Nowadays, there are more and more people who aren’t willing to tolerate smoking around them,” said Rev. Dr. Diane R. Dixon-Proctor, chair of the Board of Trustees. “I’m anti-smoking everywhere…I have asthma so I’m glad [we’ve passed the policy].”

For those who continue to worry about the already wobbly retention rate of AACC, the administrators are far from worried about this new change affecting their numbers.

“Look at what happened when everywhere became smoke free,” exclaimed Dixon-Proctor and Lindsey through proud smiles. “Everybody was saying that businesses were going to be hurting and that nobody would come in if they couldn’t smoke.”

And for those who think that AACC’s newly appointed Non-Smoking Policy is unfair, the president of the school and the chair of the Board of Trustees don’t believe that it is in any way an infringement on anyone’s rights.

“The [Anne Arundel] Medical Center won’t even hire you if you’re a smoker. Even if you smoke at home,” said Dixon-Proctor and Lindsay.