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Glendale Community College ponders going smoke-free

Proposal encounters resistance from smokers, who puff between classes.

March 23, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Officials at Glendale Community College this week proposed that the college join a small handful of smoke-free campuses statewide.

The proposal comes about two years after officials restricted smoking on campus to several designated locations and would place the college among roughly a half-dozen community colleges statewide that have gone completely smoke-free.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, about 10 California community colleges have adopted campus-wide non-smoking policies, most of them in San Diego County.

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“Our faculty and students want to have a smoke-free campus,” said Armine Hacopian, president of the college’s board of trustees. “Our city is going toward that.”

Many campuses, including that of Pasadena City College, have restricted smoking areas, but a relative few have gone all out.

Although college officials won’t vote on the policy until later this spring, college trustee Vahe Peroomian said he believes his colleagues on the board have made up their minds.

“I think we’re all for this policy and we’re going to vote for it, so we might as well prepare the campus for this,” he said.

But the proposal is bound to encounter protest from smokers already bristling with being restricted to certain areas.

“I’ll go on strike,” said Ara Kazaryan, a 20-year-old student. “That would be an outrage. We can’t let that happen.”

Kazaryan was between classes, smoking among dozens of other students in a designated corner on campus. He says his habit of smoking before and after each class is relaxing.

His friend, John Sarkisyan, 19, agreed.

“We get out [of class], we have a 10-minute break. We want to grab a snack and have a cigarette real quick and go back to class … this really helps us,” he said.

Hacopian acknowledged that some faculty members had also expressed disapproval over the pending change.

“I had two faculty members who felt that their rights were being stepped on,” she said.

If the policy is enacted, violators would be warned or cited $100, according to Gary Montecuollo, chief of police for Glendale Community College.

Hacopian said the move to a smoke-free campus was largely inevitable following the decision to limit smoking on campus two years ago.

“It’s a health issue,” she said. “We hope that other institutions look at us and say that Glendale College was able to do it, and they’ll do it to.”

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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