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Bakersfield College

students pose with cigarette butts and surgical masks

Bakersfield College is Tobacco Free

Tobacco-Free Perspectives

An Equity Perspective

Equity is one of the core principles of Bakersfield College, and that includes health equity, which the American Public Health Association defines as “everyone [having] the opportunity to attain their highest level of health”. Establishing a tobacco-free campus is a crucial part of achieving health equity, ensuring that BC is a healthy environment for all of the students who come here to reach the next step on their path to academic and career goals.

Tobacco use on campus is in direct opposition to BC’s commitment to health equity, like tobacco use and exposure to second and third-hand smoke causes and worsens lung and heart disease. Tobacco exposure undermines the success of tobacco users who are trying to quit and former tobacco users who strive to remain tobacco-free, as well as students expecting to live in a tobacco-free environment. Medical research is conclusive that all individuals are in danger from direct, second, and third-hand tobacco exposure. Simply put, tobacco poses a barrier to the open and free access to places where tobacco is used.

A Social Justice Perspective

Tobacco marketing and usage are disproportionately higher among vulnerable populations, including young adults, individuals with behavioral and substance use disorders, veterans, LGTBQ, and those in poverty. There is no established minimum amount of tobacco use where exposure is not harmful. Key symptoms of nicotine addiction (strong urges to use tobacco, anxiety, and irritability) can appear in young college-age adults within weeks or only days after occasional smoking first begins and well before daily smoking has even started. Therefore, an environment of permissible tobacco use is a barrier for many of our campus’ vulnerable populations and is inconsistent with BC’s primary goal of student success and the principle of social justice.

A Compassionate Perspective

BC recognizes that tobacco is an addictive substance, and the college will provide support and resources to those who currently use tobacco, those who wish to quit using tobacco products, and those who have already quit. It has been demonstrated that tobacco-free campuses are environments where people who have started to become and who have achieved tobacco independence can remain tobacco-free.

A BC Student Perspective: By the Numbers

In the fall of 2016, BC participated in an assessment survey of college health trends utilizing the standardized National College Health Assessment (NCHA). The results of this study regarding tobacco use were reported as follows:

  • 75.9 percent of BC students have never used cigarettes, 87.3 percent never used e-cigarettes and 80.6 percent never used tobacco from a water pipe (hookah).
  • In comparison to the other 22 colleges who participated in the NCHA assessment, 72.1 percent of students never used cigarettes, 80.4 percent never used e-cigarettes and 75.9 percent never used hookah.
  • 13.9 percent of BC students have used tobacco before but not in the last 30 days, compared to 9.7 percent of people who previously used e-cigarettes and 16 percent of previous hookah smokers.
  • 5.2 percent of BC students have reported using cigarettes in the last 1-9 days. 1.5 percent reported using e-cigarettes, and 2.7 percent reported smoking hookah within the same time period.
  • 1.5 percent of BC students used cigarettes within the last 10-29 days. .4 percent reported using e-cigarettes, and .5 percent reporting using hookah within the same time period.
  • 3.5 percent of BC students smoked cigarettes all 30 days, compared with 1.1 percent of e-cigarettes users and .3 of hookah smokers who smoked every day.

Even occasional smoking is physically dangerous, and the addictive properties of nicotine in tobacco smoke can lead to long-term dependency. According to the US Surgeon General, 47 percent of adult smokers transition to regular, daily smoking before age 18, and approximately 80 percent transition to regular, daily smoking before age 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2016 Assessment of College Health Trends:
Tobacco Use at Bakersfield College

Usage Cigarettes E-Cigarettes Water pipe (hookah)
Never 75.9% 87.3% 80.6%
Not within the last 30 days 13.9% 09.7% 16.0%
Not within the last 1-9 days 05.2% 01.5% 02.7%
Not within the last 10-29 days 01.5% 00.4% 00.5%
Used tobacco all 30 days 03.5% 01.1% 00.3%

A Historical Perspective

The tobacco-free campus initiative was started by the BC Student Government Association in response to the will of the student body. The implications of this proposal were discussed and validated by all of the student and faculty organizations on campus. The implementation of this initiative remains under the advisement and direction of the BC Tobacco-Free Task Force. For more information about making #BCTobaccoFree, you can read the Kern Community College District's Administrative Procedure.

Tobacco Cessation Resources

On the Web

  • Live Tobacco-Free: Like all Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, Live Tobacco-Free is available to you and members of your household at no cost. Call them at 800-999-7222 or visit and enter SISC
  • Smokefree: Learn about different tools to help you quit and how to use them.
  • American Cancer Society: Stay Away From Tobacco. Quitting tobacco is not easy, but it can be done. 
  • Become an EX: Imagine your life without tobacco. Looks great, right? A new way to think about quitting smoking.
  • Free, personalized, confidential quit services in six languages.
  • The Cost of Smoking: Take a closer look at both the financial costs and health risks of smoking, and get expert advice and resources on how to kick this expensive addiction.

Smartphone Applications

  • quitSTART App: From the Centers for Disease Control, the quitSTART app is a free smartphone app that helps you quit smoking with tailored tips, inspiration, and challenges.
  • Smokefree 2019: Enter your smoking habits to suit your needs to quitting, with interesting statistics, health effects, and own targets you are always motivated after the smoke stop. Download for Android or Apple

Tobacco Facts

  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing over 438,000 deaths per year.
  • While electronic cigarettes, vapes, and hookah are a relatively new tobacco trend, the health consequences and safety of these products are the same as any tobacco product.
  • Smokeless Tobacco products are a known cause of cancer and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Cigars have many of the same health risks as cigarettes, including causing certain cancers.