Close but no cigar: Senate rejects Tobacco-Free RMC, article by David Fejeran

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On March 31, the Associated Students of Rocky Mountain College voted “no” for a proposed policy that would make RMC Tobacco-Free.

The movement behind the proposal, Tobacco-Free RMC, has formulated its policies in part based off of Tobacco-Free policies from other colleges, including the policy held by MSUB. The movement is largely led by a combination of staff and students. RMC staff voted largely in favor of the policy, while students polled tended to be against the policy. Faculty decided not to hold a vote as it was a non-academic issue.

The policy itself, while not available for the student body to read until it passes the Senate, bans more than just tobacco products. The “Tobacco-Free” title assumes not only cigarettes would be banned, but also cigars, hookah, and chew. The policy also bans e-cigarettes and vaping devices. For many students, this aspect of the policy is problematic because e-cigarettes and vaping are a tobacco-free alternatives that satisfy a nicotine “fix.” E-cigarettes and vaping are included in the list of prohibited products, according to Tobacco-Free RMC advocate Alicia Bravo, because rests in the fact that “we [Campus Safety Staff, Tobacco-Free RMC proponents] don’t know what’s in them.”

Enforcement of the proposed policy would be starkly different from other Campus Safety policies. In years past, infractions that relate to underage drinking were handled by a Peer-Review board, who would review cases and administer programs that students could take part in if they were caught drinking. Other policies deal with infractions by charging students fees or giving out tickets, particularly with regards to parking. According to discussions held at ASRMC meetings, staff and faculty would simply ask students to smoke off-campus. Repeated infractions would be dealt with at the Dean of Students level.

Under the proposed policy, the Campus Safety Office would provide “Quit Kits” for students who smoke or use tobacco. These Quit Kits include mints and cessation information with the intention to provide education for students who use tobacco. According to school policy, the school cannot hand out nicotine patches or nicotine gum to students but can provide educational pamphlets.

Student response to the policy has complicated the issue of making RMC Tobacco-Free; the student body, according to most ASRMC Senators, are very much against it. Marcus Twitchell, the Senator for the Freshmen dorms, said that most freshmen, “see this policy [Tobacco-Free RMC] as a publicity stunt rather than something that actually solves a problem.” Jack Jennaway (‘18), the Senator for the Rimview dorm, claims that the policy “is simply nuanced,” and that with regards to current policy, “We can be civil about this and we can do this in a way that makes everyone happy.” ASRMC President Zach Pietrocarlo, while in favor of some aspects of the policy, “would prefer an in-between approach that bans smoking tobacco rather than an all-or-nothing policy.”

Rejection of the proposed policy means that Tobacco-Free RMC must return to the drawing board if they wish their agenda to pass ASRMC.

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