In response to a complaint to the City of Oakland about violations of the city smoking ordinance, Housing and Dining Management Services has reinstated existing rules on campus prohibiting smoking within 30 feet of building windows and entrances.
Assistant Vice President of HMDS Karen Maggio said that in conjunction, Mills will provide more benches near smoking receptacles for smokers, as well as create a smoking patio sometime this year as an alternative to smoking on Adam’s Plaza.
And Public Safety can only politely encourage people not to smoke and have no mechanism to fine students for violations, Maggio said.
Maggio e-mailed the citation from the City of Oakland to students and faculty on Oct. 18. The email also asked students to be aware of Mills’ smoking policy.
“I received 100 responses that were supportive the day after I sent it. There wasn’t one rebuttal,” said Maggio.
“I hate smoke and it makes me sick. My mom smokes and that’s why I don’t live with her. They should enforce non-smoking more, and people should speak up out of respect,” said Kiraa Lillard, a freshman and nonsmoker, who sat at a table in Adam’s Plaza.
The handbook for students, employees and staff at Mills states that smoking is prohibited inside and within 30 ft. of any building, exceeding the City of Oakland’s policy ordinance on smoking by 5 ft. The ordinance is also available on the Mills Web site.
Maggio said that the ordinance is broken most often on Adam’s Plaza, outside the entrance of Mills Hall, and around dorms. She also said that because the EF building operates on a different lease, Mills has less authority enforcing the ordinance on that building, but EF students are still given a thorough orientation about smoking policies.
Some students said they were confused about the specific requirements of the ordinance.
“It’s not like I have any tape measure,” said junior Sandy Bury who sat smoking on a bench furthest from the entrance of Mills Hall.
Bury also said that many ashtrays are right outside entrances to buildings, and that people who are smoking tend to congregate by them. She said it would be helpful if someone could tell students and faculty where they were allowed to smoke, instead of mentioning that they had to stand 30 ft. away from entrances.
“A lot of people sit on the steps or tables in Adam’s Plaza and smoke because the buildings are so close to each other. They would have to stand out on the meadow to smoke,” said Maggie Reynolds, a junior and non-smoker.
She said that some people are more sensitive to the smoke than others and that faculty and staff members in offices above patios where people smoke are most affected.
“The ventilation is limited and they can’t walk away,” said Maggio.
When she spotted a faculty member smoking outside Mills Hall, she confronted the person, who said, “You know I’ve been trying to quit smoking and maybe now would be a good time to stop.”
However, Maggio said that the college wasn’t interested in banning smoking completely from campus. She said that smokers and non-smokers should both have rights.
“It’s not Mills College. It’s the law,” said Ali Uscilka, a senior and nonsmoker, who said that she didn’t mind smoke when it was outside.
California was the first state to pass the Smokefree Workplace Law in 1995, which prohibited smoking in public and private workplaces, as well as restaurants. In 1998, bars and gaming rooms were included in this law.