Coop Committee Polls Students on Cigarette Sales

The ASPC is currently gathering student opinion on cigarette sales at the Coop Store.

On Feb. 23, the ASPC’s Coop Committee e-mailed a survey to the Pomona College community to help gauge opinion on the matter.

“It is one of the issues we’ve been discussing all year,” said ASPC Vice President and Coop Committee Chair Kelly Schwartz PO’10. “Historically, the committee has reviewed it every couple of years.”

This year, the review was motivated by a decrease in cigarette sales over the past year. Schwartz said this is the first time the Committee has surveyed the community as part of the process.

The survey asked Pomona students, faculty, and staff questions regarding their smoking and cigarette purchasing habits, as well as their opinion about whether the store should sell cigarettes.

Out of 623 responses—588 students, 22 staff, and 14 faculty members—55 percent said they believe the Coop should continue to sell cigarettes and 44 percent think it should cease to do so. Of the respondents, 89 percent identified as non-smokers.

Because a majority of those surveyed were in favor of continued sales, Schwartz said the Coop will most likely continue to carry cigarettes. However, the Committee has yet to meet to discuss the results.

“In past discussions, while no one has favored cigarettes per se, they have seen the sale of cigarettes as part of the service they provide to the community,” said Neil Gerard, Smith Campus Center director and coop committee member.

The survey suggests that quite a few students who do not smoke still support the sale of cigarettes at the coop.

“A significant portion of people on campus smoke, and if they want to pursue that habit, they should be able to,” said Kori Vandergeest PO’12.

Simone Nibbs PO’12 disagreed.

“In my mind, I classify cigarettes with alcohol,” she said. “The Coop doesn’t sell alcohol, so they shouldn’t sell cigarettes. They’re addictive.”

The survey included a box for comments, and Schwartz said most of the responses mirrored one of these two viewpoints.

“People feel strongly one way or the other,” she said. “Either they wrote about student rights with regards to what they can purchase and the behavior they choose to engage in, or they said that smoking is bad for your health and the Coop is endorsing it by selling cigarettes.”

The survey had a two-week run, and the committee will analyze the results shortly.

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