(No) Respect

June 23, 2011

Maryland’s Clean Indoor Air Act was signed into law in 2007.  It was designed to protect the health of individuals in public indoor spaces.

Smoking cigarette ash bin

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As smoke can enter buildings through open doors and windows, regulations prohibiting smoking outside of buildings have been enacted in many venues.  Again, the issue is one of public health.  One such place prohibiting smoking outside of buildings is the Community College of Baltimore County.  Carroll Community College has taken a different approach-it is smoke and tobacco-free.  According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, “there are now at least 500 100% smokefree campuses with no exemptions.”

The 2010-2011 Community College of Baltimore County College Catalog clearly states that “…Students, employees, and visitors are prohibited from using any tobacco products within 8 meters (25 feet) of  all building entrances, windows that may be opened and air intakes.”  The Catalog goes on to say the smoking is permitted in designated areas and that disposal containers are available for the resulting butts.  Above is one such disposal unit.

Cigarette butts in flower garden

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I should add that the above is not a “designated area”  for smoking (it is a flower bed) and, as such,  is certainly also not a “disposal container”.  It does, however, have the misfortune of being located near a doorway to a classroom building and so has become both.

Close-up of cigarette butts

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is entirely possible, if not probable, that most students, employees, and visitors to the campus will not have read the College Catalog.  Nor will they have necessarily seen the disposal bins as evidenced by one smoker who sidled up to me as I was making these photographs and who had already lit a cigarette.  I had to point out the bin which was not very far from where we were, but well outside the posted 25-foot restriction.

Full smoke-free sign

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In support of the policy, signs have been posted outside doorways and air intakes informing anyone on campus as to this prohibition.  This sign is actually posted on the wall above the flower bed depicted in the previous photographs.  As evidenced by the number of cigarette butts in the bed, the sign has had little impact.

Smoke free sign with extinguished ashes

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Close-up smoke free-sign with extinguished ash

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In fact, looking closer, it is easy to see that cigarettes, or other tobacco products, have been stubbed out directly on the sign.  That certainly could be interpreted as a comment on the policy.  In a related story, New York City recently implemented a smoking ban in parks and other public outdoor areas.  As the article indicates, some see these kinds of policies as infringing on the rights of smokers.

And that brings up the point of respect.  It is important to respect the rights of others in a civil society.  At the same time, once decisions have been made, policies written, and laws enacted, it is up to the members of those societies to respect and abide by such prohibitions.  No one is saying that folks on the CCBC campus do not have the right to smoke-that right is being protected by the establishment of designated areas where the use of tobacco products is permitted.  The issue here is that users of tobacco products also need to respect the rights of others to clean air and to therefore abide by the regulations.

Cigarette bin next to newly planted flower garden

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Since this post was originally written and now posted, the flower bed has been cleaned, freshly mulched, and newly planted.  In addition, one of the cigarette bins was moved closer as an incentive to be used.  So far, this appears to be working and is a welcome improvement.  Thanks to all for making this happen.

Take good care.

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