Friday, 19 December 2014 13:18

New Year to Ring in Tobacco-Free, Smoke-Free SUNY Oswego

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A fresh start -- During the Great American Smokeout in November, SUNY Oswego student volunteer Kwasi Darko greets passersby with offers of mints as part of a promotional event for the college's tobacco-free, smoke-free policy launching Jan. 1. A fresh start -- During the Great American Smokeout in November, SUNY Oswego student volunteer Kwasi Darko greets passersby with offers of mints as part of a promotional event for the college's tobacco-free, smoke-free policy launching Jan. 1. Submitted Photo

SUNY Oswego's tobacco- and smoke-free policy takes effect Jan. 1, following a campaign of more than eight months to raise awareness of the costs of tobacco and nicotine use and addiction, to promote and assist smoking cessation, and to communicate with the college's publics.

The new year will bring a fresh start for all at the college -- visitors along with faculty, staff and students. The policy implemented that day prohibits smoking and all tobacco and e-cigarette use on college property, outdoors as well inside, including in any vehicles on campus.

President Deborah F. Stanley, aiming "to support the educational mission of the college and to provide a safe, clean and healthy working, living and learning environment," announced SUNY Oswego's intention on Earth Day, April 22.

To reach audiences from hockey fans to prospective students, commuters to resident students and all employees, the college-wide Clean Air Committee has worked since then to get the word out in a wide variety of ways.

For example, season ticket holders for hockey -- a perennial draw featuring SUNY Oswego's nationally ranked men's team -- received informational slips in their annual mailing late this summer. The Marano Campus Center arena's public address announcer, aided by graphics on the scoreboard screens, promoted the upcoming policy this fall at all games.

The college worked with the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County to help boost campus-community awareness of cessation services and the college's impending policy.

Cessation focus

On campus, efforts to get the word out about cessation programs and the new tobacco-free era have been constant, among them digital signage, sandwich-board signs in college buildings, window clings, posters and a series of videos on the tobacco-free campaign's website Some of the pieces feature personal stories; others use humor with a point.

In-person approaches have included residence hall visits by student volunteers of the Lifestyles Center, information at new-student orientation sessions and on admissions tours, distribution of brochures at a variety of college events about smoking hazards and cessation opportunities, and multifaceted promotional events on Earth Day and at the Great American Smokeout in November.

The college's campaign has keyed on cessation resources. Mary Walker Health Center provides confidential sessions by appointment for all SUNY Oswego students and employees, and conducts a cessation program for students that includes free nicotine-replacement therapies -- patches, gum and lozenges -- as well as drugs such as Chantix prescribed by a physician.

Among many other cessation resources, the campaign has pointed to the National Cancer Institute's, the state's Smokers' Quit Line at 1-866-NYQUITS. Oswego Health's free counseling by appointment and many health insurers' coverage, at varying levels, for physician-prescribed cessation programs.

At the Smokeout promotion on Nov. 20, student volunteers from the Lifestyles Center and Students Against Cancer joined employees from the Clean Air Committee to fan interest in smoking cessation and the upcoming policy among passersby on one of the college's most heavily traveled pedestrian routes through the Marano Campus Center. T-shirt raffles, logo-bearing rubber bracelets and mints, brochures, free food and an appearance by the hapless character "Ciggy Butts" all served to highlight the dangers of smoking, chewing, e-cigarettes and second-hand smoke.

Awareness of and compliance with the tobacco-free, smoke-free policy relies largely on communication, education, cessation and mutual respect and cooperation. The college's campaign won't end on Jan. 1 with the policy's launch. Among the efforts, crews are working on permanent signs, an artist is crafting a new series of digital signs, and public address announcers at sporting events plan updated calls for fans to respect the college and its new policy.

SUNY Oswego will join nearly 1,000 tobacco-free colleges and universities, and more than 290 prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes, according to October figures from the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. Nearly 1,500 campuses nationwide are smoke-free.

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