Fines from smoking not fine

tobacco-free-hi clker dot comMost students may have noticed this semester that both Black Hawk campuses are now smoke-free. No type of tobacco or smoking is permitted on school grounds. However, not everyone has seen where this new ruling has been put into effect. While some may say it’s their right to smoke, the state says differently while students are on campus.

Lighting or burning any substance that contains tobacco is prohibited. This includes cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, beedies, kreteks, water pipes, bongs, and hookahs.

Lighting or burning of non-tobacco plants or marijuana is included in the ban. Tobacco is just not anything lightable, but include smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco and any non-FDA approved nicotine delivery device or product. This also includes the use of electronic cigarettes or vaping.

After speaking with the Dean of Student Services Luis Moreno, the understanding for this ruling became clear. “The ruling for the school to become smoke-free was not to punish smokers of any kind,” said Moreno. “The school wanted to use this ruling to help students improve their health.”

The only way this is a punishment is for repeat offenders. “At first there is only a warning,” he said. “If the person continues to use tobacco, the second offense is to be sent to me. It becomes a $50 fine, then goes to $100 with the final offense being $200.” Smoking is not the only action to be fined; if a person is caught throwing a cigarette butt at another indivdual, the fine goes directly to $200.

If anyone receives a fine, it’s not that easily ignored. If the fine is from a college, the college is able to go after the person’s tax return in order to get compensation.

Being illegal on campus doesn’t mean the school can force the students or employees to quit. “The school enforces the non-smoking ban on campus and enforces the ruling with the punishments we set,” said Moreno.

This doesn’t mean that incidents of using tobacco hasn’t occurred. A BHC East student was caught with chew in his mouth during class. When the teacher told him that chew was not allowed, he said he didn’t know that was the rule. She proceeded to take him out to the window and showed him the sticker and had to explain what it meant – no tobacco or smoking allowed.

To help students create healthier habits, there are was ways Black Hawk can assist. “Black Hawk has a few advisors training to do one-on-one and group counseling for the students and employees asking for help,” said Moreno. There are also online sites that have been created and not just for Illinois residents, but also for Iowa residents as well.

Black Hawk also provides a link for Smoking Cessation Programs. There is a local, in-person program that lasts six weeks with seven sessions with a trained counselor. These sessions take place on both campuses for both students and employees. The times for the sessions may differ.

Black Hawk also provides an online course on Smoking Cessation. This program is called Freedom from Smoking. It’s an interactive course designed to educate and modify the behavior patterns of smokers. It can be accessed at any time.

Contributed by JoyAnna Sturgeon, Guest Reporter

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