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Chapman University says thank you for not smoking

Starting Monday, dozens of ashtrays atop trash cans will be moved out and signs along the lines of "Thank you for not smoking" will be moved in as Chapman University becomes the latest of Orange County's smoke-free campuses.

At Chapman, smoking had already been banned in all campus buildings, in quad and courtyard areas and within 20 feet of building entrances. The new policy means the entirety of the grounds will be off limits to smokers, who would have to venture to the Orange city sidewalks that encircle the campus to light up.

Since 2007, the more than half a dozen university and college campuses in the county — from Fullerton College to Saddleback in Mission Viejo — have enacted bans on the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, water pipes, pipes, hookahs and other tobacco products.

These movements to ban the clouds of smoke on local campuses have been driven, for the most part, by students.

"The impetus for the movement is clear," said Harold Hewitt Jr., Chapman's executive vice president and chief operating officer, in a news release. "Colleges and universities are making this commitment in order to promote good health, including protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke."

Hewitt congratulated the Chapman University Student Government Assn.'s Sen. Henry Callander and President Josh Nudelman on their efforts to make the campus in Orange a smoke-free one.

"This was for the rights of the nonsmokers because individual smoking on campus affects everybody," said Nudelman in an interview. "We're not telling people they have to stop smoking. They just can't smoke on campus where other people are choosing not to smoke."

Among their first steps, he and Callander released a survey in September asking if students were in favor of a tobacco- and smoke-free campus.

Around 650 students, or about 10% of Chapman's student population, responded.

Just over 78% expressed support for the smoke-free route, 16% were opposed and almost 6% indicated they were impartial or "other."

With the apparent support of students — the smoking issue didn't get any traction last year when a member of the student government brought it up — the two had the impetus to keep on going.

Nudelman and Callander reviewed the no-smoking policies of other campuses and also sought advice from a vice chancellor's office and other school officials.

From there, they wrote up a policy and sent it to the faculty senate's executive board — the governing body of Chapman's faculty — for fine-tuning and then to Chapman's 27-member student government, its faculty senate and finally senior staff for approval.

While the policy was being reviewed in late November, Callander submitted a letter to the faculty senate detailing his motivation. He shared a story of Jill Costello, his teammate on their high school's rowing team.

Costello was recruited to UC Berkeley and began her first year at the university in 2009.

In 2010, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died the same year.

"Although there is not sufficient enough information to prove that the incident was related to secondhand smoke, it is known that Jill never smoked in her life," Callander wrote in his letter. "And professionals speculate that exposure to smoke on Berkeley's campus had a large part of her death."

Since 1964, around 2.5 million nonsmokers have died from health problems that arose from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also reported that cigarette smoking causes over 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, including 90% of lung cancer deaths, and that more women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

As the Chapman no-smoking policy moved through the hierarchy, numerous adjustments were made. Issues that needed to be addressed were how to handle smoking in a university-sponsored theater production or film class, whether to prohibit the sale of tobacco products on campus and how to address infractions or unresolved problems related to the policy.

It was during a meeting with Jerry Price, Chapman dean of students, on Jan. 12 that Nudelman was informed that senior staff had signed off on the new policy, making Chapman a smoke-free campus as of Feb. 1, the first day of Chapman's spring semester.

"I was stunned," Nudelman said. "I thought it would take longer."

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Other school efforts

Irvine Valley College became a smoke-free campus as of May 26.

That effort, by students, staff and faculty, was jump-started after an afternoon spent cleaning up cigarette butts on campus.

"We had a collective cigarette butt day that involved representatives from all over our student clubs, grounds people, faculty and administration," said Glenn Roquemore, Irvine Valley College president.

The 20-member team picked the cigarette remains and put them in a 5-gallon jar. In just one hour, they had collected 6,997 cigarette butts.

"I don't believe we covered the entire campus either," Roquemore said.

The jar was placed in the foyer of the school's student services building.

Simultaneously, a group of students, faculty and staff at Saddleback Valley College was also discussing turning the Mission Viejo campus into a smoke-free zone, according to Irvine Valley spokeswoman Diane Oaks.

The South Orange County Community College District's director of public affairs, Tere Fluegeman, said the move for both schools, which are both part of the district, was mainly student- and faculty-driven.

At UC Irvine, the Student Task Force Advocating Reducing Tobacco had completed a proposal to ban campus smoking in 2007.

It wasn't until a smoking ban was issued for all 10 UC campuses that Irvine's became smoke-free. That was in 2014.

According to Marc Gomez, co-chairman of the Smoke-Free Policy Task Force, a staff and faculty group at UCI, the smoke-free initiative came from the office of the university system's president.

At Orange Coast College, students in the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) honors club started a smoke-free petition in fall 2013, according to media reports. In one month, they garnered around 1,000 signatures.

The Costa Mesa school's student senate had several discussions in previous years about being a smoke-free campus, according to district spokeswoman Letitia Clark. Polls were conducted to gauge student support, but the results were so down the middle that a formal policy was never enacted, she said.

Separately, Clark said, drafts of a districtwide policy are continuing to be discussed.

However, Golden West College in Huntington Beach, which is part of the Coast Community College District with Orange Coast, became smoke-free in May 2007. Two years later, Santiago Canyon and Santa Ana Colleges in the Rancho Santiago Community College District followed suit.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, a national lobbying organization, as of Jan. 1, at least 1,475 college and university campuses in the United States are 100% smoke-free.

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Enforcement, resources and challenges

After the ban at Fullerton College in 2007 eradicated all campus ashtrays, flames would occasionally appear in trash cans, perhaps because careless smokers were still lighting up, according to media reports. Fullerton is the first two-year college in Orange County to ban smoking.

When Cal State Fullerton became smoke-free Aug. 1, 2013, the school began offering training for students to become Fresh Air Advocates, who would politely ask smokers to put out their cigarettes.

Irvine Valley will issue warnings and citations to students, faculty or staff for smoking on the grounds, and the school's Health and Wellness Center offers a smoking-cessation program to help those looking to cut back and even quit the habit.

Similarly, some UCI offices make free Nicorette gum and patches available, according to Joe Rizkallah, the assistant director of environmental health and safety for the university.

Rizkallah and other university and college campus officials said one challenge in enforcing a no-smoking policy is communicating to international students about the shift in the culture.

"We advise the students as they're applying here to note that UCI is a smoke-free campus," Rizkallah said. "It's a cultural evolution, but we have a high compliance here. It's not perfect, but it is going really well."

Back at Chapman, Nudelman said he heard from some international students who told him smoking in movie theaters and restaurants is not prohibited in their home cities.

Kimaya Singh, an international student at Chapman, grew up in Muscat, Oman, a city just outside of Dubai. During her time in Muscat and her travels to Europe, she found that smoking is not so taboo in those places.

"In Muscat, you'll see it as you walk through parks or the beach," Singh said. "Some of my friends who are students in Europe will have a cigarette once a week or every couple of days. It's not so much an addiction, but a social activity."

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The future

At Chapman, under the new no-smoking policy, the act of smoking in scenes in university drama and film class productions must be approved by the dean of that respective department.

"If it's a key part of the show, we wouldn't want to take away from the artistic aspect of it," Nudelman said.

Student government is currently discussing how members of the Chapman community can report people seen smoking on campus.

"This project is a very important one for our campus, as it's one of the first times that our Student Government has affected a huge amount of change with a high amount of publicity," Callander said.

Regarding the new signage, Nudelman said it was important to design something that would positively enforce the policy, such as a "Thank you for not smoking" line.

While the school's transition to being smoke-free environment is underway, other campus campaigns may be just around the corner.

According to Nudelman, Chapman's student government is currently exploring what can be done to get automated external defibrillators on campus and as well as security cameras in parking structures to improve safety.

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