BRADENTON — The local community college campus may be going smoke-free.
Lars Hafner, president of State College of Florida, told board members Monday that students had been talking to him about the possibility of a tobacco-free campus.
At SCF’s Venice campus, students recently held a forum about the matter, he told the board.
“Down in Venice, they’ve started to aggressively pursue that,” he said. “It’s a student-driven initiative.”
If student groups formally seek a change in the college’s policies, it would fall to the Board of Trustees to decide the issue, Hafner said. If the board voted to ban tobacco, it would apply to the Bradenton campus as well as those in Lakewood Ranch and Venice, he said.
Under the school’s current policy, smoking is already prohibited inside every building, officials said. People may smoke only outdoors and in designated areas, they said.
“Let me emphasize this is in the exploration stage, and it’s too soon to guess what the outcome might be,” said Kathy Walker, director of public affairs and marketing, after the meeting.
“Based on students’ requests that the administration consider a tobacco-free policy, Dr. Hafner asked the college’s attorney to look at the statute and give an opinion about the board’s ability to implement a recommendation banning tobacco,” she said. “The statute is 1001.64(5), and it’s somewhat ambiguous on this precise point. There is no firm time line for when this will be decided.”
A tobacco ban also might be paired with smoking-cessation classes to help students and employees quit smoking, Hafner said.
Student Cathy Swackhammer, 42, of Bradenton, was sitting in a designated smoking area Monday, puffing away.
She was not very enthusiastic about the idea of a ban on smoking.
“It’s a complete open-air campus, so why make it smoke-free?” she said as she worked on her laptop.
“We have designated smoking sections. I believe the reason they’re doing it is because they’re going to be starting younger students here.”
She referred to SCF’s plans to launch a collegiate charter school that would eventually serve grades 6-12.
But she said that although she has smoked since she was 15, with the right incentive, she would be willing to try to quit.
“Honestly, the big thing is money,” she said. “It’s expensive to smoke, it’s expensive to go to school.”
Student Julian Givins, 24, of Bradenton, said a campus-wide ban on smoking would be controversial, but he did not consider it very important to him personally.
“I don’t smoke,” he said. “As long as people aren’t right up under me (smoking), I don’t care.”
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org