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Montgomery College students smoke despite cigarette ban

ROCKVILLE – Dozens of Montgomery College students at the Rockville campus, a self-proclaimed tobacco-free campus, as well as some faculty, smoke on a path connecting Mannakee Street to one of the college’s parking lots.

At any given time during the day, passersby may see people on the path gathered near the “Thank you for not smoking or vaping” sign to do the opposite.

Marcus Rosano, director of public relations, said the school prohibited electronic cigarettes starting in June.

According to the student code of conduct, students may not smoke or sell tobacco products or E-cigarettes on school property.

Employees and anyone else on school building grounds must leave the grounds to smoke or vape, Rosano said.

There is no smoking or vaping allowed on campus, Rosano said.

“If you’re out on 355 on the side walk, that’s different,” Rosano added.

Students at Montgomery College’s Rockville campus say the anti-smoking rule is enforced through warnings.

If security guards spot people smoking in parking lots, they tell violators to either extinguish their cigarettes or move off school property to the street, said a 19-year-old student named Josue, who did not want to give his last name.

Parking violations are enforced with fines but smoking and vaping violations are not fined.

However, repeat offenders could receive a trespassing notice from the local police, said Romanson.

Tara Nelson, the safety and security manager at the Rockville campus, said the security officers remind people smoking on school property of the code of conduct and offer them the chance to put out their cigarette without a punishment.

“Our first response is to familiarize the person with the policy,” Nelson said. “This has been extremely successful.  The violator most often extinguishes the tobacco or vapor product without complaint.”

 If a person refuses to obey the rules, the officer will tell the person disobedience could result in a trespass notice by local police, Nelson said.

Nelson mentioned she was not aware of any trespass notices issued to students or staff since she started working for the college in May 2014.

“If a student was a ‘repeat offender’ to the tobacco policy, they would be in violation of the student code of conduct, which has no fines associated,” Romanson said.

Romanson said he was not aware of any student violation of the student code of conduct since he started working for the college.

Olivia Taylor, a second-year classical piano student, said when vaping was permitted, she would make sure to use her electronic cigarette in places where people did not often walk.

Taylor said she was not sure if the path is school property or not.

On a daily basis, students and staffers at the campus smoke on a walkway that connects Mannakkee Street with an adjacent parking lot.

Other students smoke along a fence on the border of the campus near parking lot No. 5.

Daniel, a student who asked not to mention his last name, said he regularly sees security guards smoking cigarettes by Mannakkee Street which is not school property.

Gary Omier, 18, said he thought everyone who attends classes at the campus understands smoking marijuana is not allowed on school property.

“No one’s that stupid,” Omier said.

Robert, a general education student at the college, said he smokes marijuana on campus and has friends who smoke the drug on Montgomery College property.

Some people stay in their cars to smoke it, he said.

Marc, a student who did not want to give his name, uses a vapor pen beside the path by Mannakkee Street.

He said vaping is not usually considered smoking but it is at Montgomery College.

Brandon Legate, 31, a second-year history student, smokes cigarettes by the sidewalk.

He said he has not seen people smoking marijuana on campus or smelled it.

Students and employees take their smoke breaks by a fence on the opposite side of campus near the other entrance, though it is not permissible by school rules.

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