Sitting less than 10 feet away from a “Do Not Smoke” sign, Dwight Mejia hunches over to smoke a cigarette as he waits for the bus.
“I smoke often on campus,” said Mejia, 20, who did so between building 1000 and 3000 at Kendall Campus. “I have been a student [at MDC] for four years and I have been smoking since. No one has ever told me anything, [or] to stop.”
Despite the college-wide smoking ban that Miami Dade College decided on nearly one year ago, many are still violating the policy.
“I think [smokers] are aware of the rule but choose to ignore it,” said Kendall Campus student Yorleny Ordaz, 22. “I see them and the smell irritates me.”
According to the Tobacco and Smoke-Free College Policy I-77, responsibility for the enforcement of the smoking ban relies on the members of the college community.
“I think it’s everybody’s responsibility,” said Armando Guzman, Kendall Campus public safety chief. “If I’m a smoker, I need to set an example, and if I don’t agree with the policy I can go about changing it in a positive manner.”
Guzman, a reformed smoker, said he has seen a significant decrease of students and faculty smoking on campus.
“When I see a student smoking, the great majority are very receptive and will offer to put it out,” he said. “Occasionally, we come across not only students smoking, but, employees, faculty, staff, you name it.”
However, Wolfson Campus assistant public safety chief Carlos Alvarez said his public safety officers rarely encounter this problem.
“At Wolfson Campus, [smokers] just need to go to the city of Miami side walk, a few feet away, and smoke,” Alvarez siad. “It’s not like Kendall Campus where students have to go extensively far in order to smoke.”
At MDC’s two largest campuses—North and Kendall—smoking isn’t as simple as a sidewalk away. For some students, ignoring the policy is the most convenient way to go, considering the campuses’ geographical lay out.
If students, faculty and staff are caught smoking they are asked to comply. If they refuse, they will be directed to the Dean of Students Office and a staff or faculty members supervisor will be notified, according to the Smoke-Free College Policy.
Several violations of the smoking ban may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal.
However, what constitutes “disciplinary action” is not defined in the policy.
“In my opinion the smoking ban has been successful. Perfection is very difficult to achieve, but definitely we observe significant improvements,” said College Provost Rolando Montoya. “Since 1985, the College [has] banned indoor smoking. And since 2011, smoking is prohibited in any College facility.”
When asked whether the policy will make him stop smoking, Mejia responded, “No. It doesn’t bother me. It’s just an inconvenience.”
Since the ban, the College has offered several tobacco cessation courses for students and employees.