Nickeled and Dimed: smoking fine around the corner


Karin Jensen

DVC student exhales in designated smoking area. Karin Jensen/The Inquirer

Keith Montes, Managing editor

If you are smoking on campus next fall or spring, you may be fined up to $75.

Bill Oye, the dean of student life, has authored two proposed amendments to current college district smoking policies. If the amendments are approved by the District Governing Board, the new policies would allow the district police department to fine people who smoke in undesignated areas, $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $75 for the third offense.

Currently, if students are caught smoking in any other area besides the designated parking lots, they are sent to dean Oye for disciplinary action. The penalty can range from a simple warning up to expulsion, depending on the nature and history of the violation.

According to Chris Leivas, the vice president of finance and administration, public employees who violate college procedure are also “subject to progressive disciplinary actions.”

On Jan. 1, California Assembly Bill 795 gave the governing bodies of California State University, the University of California and each community college district the authority to set the enforcement standards of current smoking laws, which includes imposing a fine for those who violate the current laws.

A 2004 law banned smoking within 20 feet of public entrances, exits and operable windows of all public buildings.

Oye says the Contra College Community College Police department would “take on the responsibility of enforcing the smoking fine.” He states, “it makes the most sense since they already have a fine system in place.”

Seventy percent of the revenue generated from the proposed fine would go to the college district police department to cover the cost associated with enforcement. The college police department did not respond to our request for an interview.

The remaining 30 percent of collected fines would go to smoking cessation education and may include the distribution of nicotine patches, as has been done in the past, according to Oye.

When asked about the possible smoking fine, DVC student Sean Donaldson stated, “Police have enough rights already as it is and they tend to abuse that power of the badge.”

But DVC student Zbysek Trousil was not worried. He said, “I don’t smoke in other [undesignated] areas so it really won’t affect me.”

The proposed fine will be decided upon by our college’s Governing Board after it has been reviewed by DVC’s faculty, staff and students. It may be approved as soon as fall or spring of the next academic year.