NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC cracks down on vaping

Smoking and its vapor alternatives have been banned on all NECC campuses. The original policy restricted smoking of tobacco products to private vehicles. Since the heightened popularity of “vaping,” administration has widened its definition of “smoking” to include the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping.

An email was sent out late last month informing students, faculty and staff of the changes.

Connor Emo, 22, a smoker, said, “I don’t see why they changed it. Most people don’t smoke around others if they know they’re not okay with it. I know a lot of people that smoke. They have to walk all the way to their cars and even that’s turning into a problem if they have their windows down.”

Emo wishes that there was at least a designated area for smokers to go, citing amusement parks and playgrounds that provide such amenities.

Two years ago he remembers being able to smoke at the top of the stairs near the Spurk Building without complaint.

“A lot of professors are very strict about their attendance policies,” said Emo. “It’s an inconvenience to have to walk all the way to your car if you need a cigarette between classes.”

Vaping, the newest trend in nicotine consumption, grew in popularity for its flavors, personalization and smokeless, safer-than-cigarettes appeal.

Juan Reyes, 18, a vaper, said, “I don’t understand why vaping has been banned.” He questions whether the ban is due to complaints.  “Are people uncomfortable?”

Leticia Coronado, 21, a non-smoker, said, “I have really bad asthma. I can’t be around the smoke. If I’m around it and I inhale the tiniest bit, I need my inhaler.”

Lt. Dan Tirone, head of security at NECC’s Haverhill campus, said that the policy has been adhered to quite well. “Once in awhile you get a few cases. They’ve seen a few and (they) just go up and say, ‘You know we have the new smoking policy now and that does include the e-cigarettes.’”

Since the policy has only been in effect for a short period time, Tirone said that there is a warning without consequence while NECC adjusts to the new restrictions. Security is giving people on campus an opportunity to learn the policy before tacking on consequences.

It was back in 2009 that David Hartleb, former president of NECC, put the initial smoking policy into effect. Hartleb’s smoke-free initiative was to promote smokers to quit, with the first infraction ending in admonishment and educational literature on the dangers of smoking.

The new policy has no mention of such measures, but Lt. Tirone said that studies done show there are potential hazards to even the alternatives to smoking that led to the change.

Tirone, who was here when the first policy was put in place, said that since the first policy was put into effect, he’s “seen a drop in people blatantly smoking.”

Student, staff and faculty members get three strikes. The first violation will result in a written warning. The policy states, “A discipline file will be established for the student and a copy of the letter of warning placed in his/her file.”

The second infraction carries an automatic $25 dollar fine. Until the fine is paid, there will be a hold placed on the student’s account, preventing them from registering for classes and graduating.

The final warning comes with a $100 fine and the same hold being put on the student’s account.

The fourth violation will result in an automatic suspension. “Upon receiving a fourth incident report from Security that a student violated the policy a fourth time, he/she will be automatically suspended and notified in writing,” to quote the policy directly.

As far as students with concerns about the rules once inside their cars, Tirone said that they can have their windows down

. Anyone with questions about the enforcement can direct their calls to Katelynn Donnelly at 978-738-7696.

The updated policy is posted on the NECC website at http://www.necc.mass.edu/student-services/current/policies-conduct/college-statements-policies-disclosures/smoke-free-environment-policy/.