PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire Community College board of trustees has unanimously agreed to make the campus smoke-free effective Aug. 1.
Following in the footsteps of other colleges and universities in limiting people's exposure to secondhand smoke, BCC students, faculty and staff won't be allowed to smoke on BCC property, except for inside their cars.
At BCC, smoking is currently relegated to "smoking huts," which are located away from high-traffic areas. Those will be closed when the smoke-free policy goes into effect.
The ban includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, electronic vapor-cigarettes, or other smoking devices.
"Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as primary smoking," said Darlene Rodowicz, chairwoman of BCC's board of trustees. "It also seems to be a trend [with community colleges]. Half either have or are considering a similar policy."
The risks associated with secondhand smoke include a higher risk for lung cancer, but also other types of cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. There is also a heightened risk of a heart attack, stroke and blood vessel disease.
Faculty members or staff who are caught repeatedly violating the smoking ban would be directed to their supervisor or to the vice president for human resources, Deborah Cotes. Students could be sent to campus security or the vice president for student affairs. Financial fines were not included.
"The focus is on supporting those that want to quit
Smoking cessation programs would be made available through the employee's health insurance policy and a campus program with assistance from students in the respiratory care program.
Rodowicz said trustees began considering the smoke-free policy in November. Since then, no one has stepped forward to object to the plan, she said.
Cotes said the faculty and staff union representatives agreed to the policy.
BCC's smoke-free policy falls in line with Holyoke Community College, Mount Wachusett and Bristol Community colleges, which already have implemented bans. Middlesex Community College is considering a ban.
Local institutions also have recently adopted smoke-free policies, including the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. The North Adams Regional Housing Authority is also drafting a policy that would make residential units smoke-free, relegating smokers to areas off the property.