FMCC decides against tobacco-free campus

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton-Montgomery Community College will not become a smoke-free campus after talks with students, faculty and staff indicated the college does not wish to move in that direction.

During Thursday’s Board of Trustee’s meeting, College President Dustin Swanger said that most people that were spoken to did not want to see the college become a smoke- and tobacco-free campus.

“The students were not interested in becoming a smoke-free campus,” Swanger said.

The college already has regulations in place about smoking within a certain number of feet of a building’s entrance, and smoking is banned in student housing. There are designated spaces and huts were students can smoke near the dorms and on campus. Swanger said the college’s student senate wanted to see better enforcement of these regulations.

Swanger said that there are signs that say no smoking. He said the signs can blend in, and perhaps something needs to be done to make them stand out.

“Sometimes they stand right next to the sign and smoke,” Swanger said.

Swanger said the student senate also indicated they wanted to potentially look at relocating the smoking huts on campus and move one that is near the college’s daycare center.

Swanger said a campus forum with faculty and staff held this month had similar results to the student senate meeting.

“Most of them were not interested in becoming a smoke-free, tobacco-free campus,” Swanger said. “However, they were very interested in taking precautions to minimize any second-hand smoke that people would be exposed to.”

Swanger said it was clear to him that people on campus want people to be able to breath clean air, but didn’t want to ban smoking on campus.

In 2015, the college was awarded a $5,000 grant to perform a study on potentially becoming a tobacco-free campus. The study included a committee and campus survey.

Swanger said some ideas were floated that students, faculty and staff could smoke in their cars, but they would still technically be on campus.

Swanger said the fact that smokers would have to potentially cross two 45 mph roads, Route 67 and Bendick Corners Road, also played a part in people’s decision against it.

“If you’re an urban campus, you can say no smoking on campus and walk to a sidewalk off campus,” Swanger said. “Here, there is no place to go.”

Swanger said the college will have the campus’ Clear the Air task force take the feedback from the meetings and come up with some recommendations for the college.

He said potential changes include different signage or relocating smoking huts.

Kerry Minor can be reached at kminor@leaderherald.com.

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