Students, instructors and staff members at Santa Monica College will no longer be allowed to smoke in the cafeteria and lounges as of this fall, the Board of Trustees decided this week.
The board Monday unanimously aproved the smoking ban, rejecting an alternative proposal to allow smoking by non-college groups who use the campus outside of school hours.
One such group is the Santa Monica College Patrons Assn., whose Friday night bingo in the cafeteria draws about 200 players, more than half of whom smoke, said Patrons president Florence Cardine. The bingo proceeds, "several thousand dollars each night," help pay for scholarships, tutoring, child care and an escort service on campus, she said. Patrons is an independent organization that receives no funding from the college, she said.
But to allow Patrons to smoke while prohibiting it for college organizations amounted to providing preferential treatment for "the group who's making money for the college," board chairwoman Ilona Katz said in a telephone interview.
"If we're to be not hypocritical," Katz said, "we have to be consistent. . . . We're trying to educate everyone, and smoking and second-hand smoke is not good for anyone.
"If the cafeteria is smoke-filled on Saturday night, on Monday it's still going to smell," she added.
Cardine said her group will search for another place on campus for the bingo games. "We might be able to put up a tent, I don't know."
Student Trustee Jason Weisberger said student polls showed support for creating a designated indoor area for smokers. He said he plans to propose that the board set aside a room "completely separate from any normal traffic and normal eating areas, where only smokers need to go and no one (else) has to go for any other purpose." Katz said she would support a separate smoking room.
Since 1987, smoking has been banned in most indoor areas of the college, except in designated areas of the student cafeteria and the student and staff lounges.