SUNY Canton will soon join the growing list of U.S. colleges and universities to adopt a tobacco-free campus policy as the College continues its efforts to provide a healthy environment for its students and employees.
“Becoming a tobacco-free campus will have a positive impact in many ways and will enhance community life, improve productivity through better health and possibly decrease health care costs,” SUNY Canton President Joseph L. Kennedy said. “Smoking has been prohibited in buildings and entryways for many years on our campus, so extending the ban to campus grounds and including all tobacco and smoking products is a natural progression for the College.”
Over the next three semesters, the College will implement an informational campaign to educate the community on the policy, which will be implemented in phases with full enforcement to begin in the Spring 2013 semester.
“This initiative was an idea brought forward by both students and employees,” Kennedy noted. “Most people understand the health advantages of implementing such a policy and I also hope to see less campus litter related to tobacco products.”
Kennedy appointed a committee to determine the College’s readiness to adopt a tobacco-free policy and to gauge public opinion. Committee members met to discuss the current SUNY Canton tobacco policies and potential changes during this planning and assessment period. Earlier this year, an internal campus survey was completed to garner further information from the campus community.
Kennedy is hopeful other colleges and universities will follow in the College’s footsteps. “SUNY Canton is among the first colleges within the SUNY system to implement this policy. We hope to lead by example and have other schools take similar actions on their campuses as it provides a healthier learning and work environment for everyone. It’s very similar to the tobacco policies already in place in public school districts,” he said.
The College will establish a series of programs to assist those who wish to break tobacco addictions between now and the implementation date. In Spring 2013, full compliance will be expected of all students and employees, according to Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Academic Services Molly Mott.
“The Roos House and surrounding athletic fields have already become tobacco-free areas,” Mott said. “Members of our campus community who use tobacco products are encouraged to begin taking steps to break those addictions so they will be able to comfortably comply with the policy when it goes into effect. Those who find compliance to be difficult should reach out and ask for help — either through the Health Services Center or the Division of Student Affairs.”
The Health Services staff will be on hand to assist anyone interested in making the decision to quit their use of tobacco products.
“Research tells us over 70% of tobacco users want to quit,” says SUNY Canton Health Services Nurse Julie A. Cruickshank. “We will provide all possible assistance as we move through the next three semesters and beyond. The development of effective support networks is critical in maximizing the potential of this policy. The great thing about this is everyone on campus will benefit greatly from its implementation.”
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF), there are smoke-free colleges and universities in virtually every state. Arkansas and Iowa have instituted statewide bans at all their public colleges and universities. Other examples include the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Oklahoma State University, Purdue University and the University of North Dakota. Well over 300 colleges and universities across the country have adopted tobacco-free policies.
Additionally, the American College Health Association (ACHA) issued a September 2009 “no tobacco policy” position statement encouraging colleges and universities nationwide “to be diligent in their efforts to achieve a 100 percent indoor and outdoor campus-wide tobacco-free environment.”
More information about SUNY Canton’s policy will be available in the coming months and will include background on issues related to tobacco use, links to useful resources and a Frequently Asked Questions section. The information will be found on the College’s website, www.canton.edu.
Media inquiries should be directed to Gregory Kie, Media Relations Manager, or call 315/386-7527.