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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
|Usage||Cigarettes||E-Cigarettes||Water pipe (hookah)|
|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%|
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.