South Bay's largest college finally goes smoke free

Smoking fines won't start until next semester

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - The largest college in the South Bay is finally going smoke free.

Southwestern College in Chula Vista has posted dozens of signs around its three campuses and is now warning students they can't smoke, chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes (or vape) anywhere on campus.

Associated Student Organization Senator Alex Mendoza said the school has installed signs and removed ashtrays from campus. The rule has been on the books since last December, but enforcement and awareness didn't start in earnest until this semester.

"I feel like just for the sake of not shocking the campus too much it's good to move a little bit strategically; not too fast, not too slow," said Mendoza.

San Diego State University and UC San Diego have been smoke free for some time. In fact, Southwestern College is the last community college to go smoke free in San Diego County.

"It's almost weird that at this point, it's been so many decades after awareness of smoking has come out that people are still kind of debating it," said Mendoza.

"I think it's a little exaggerated, a little too much," said student Ethan Chavira, who smokes and vapes.

Campus police are only issuing warnings for now, but they're expected to start issuing actual fines next semester.

There is no word on how much violators will be fined.

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