Set to begin in January 2015, the SUNY Oswego campus will officially become smoke and tobacco free, as SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley confirmed in her Earth Day announcement.
With the implementation of this new policy, SUNY Oswego joins the list of more than 800 colleges nationwide that have adopted the tobacco-free institution; the college will also be among the 1,200 schools that have gone smoke free.
Of these schools, numerous SUNY-system colleges have already set the policies and changes into motion, including SUNY Cortland, University of Buffalo and SUNY Canton, according to a report by the Times Union.
The policy originates from the June 2012 resolution passed by the SUNY Board of Trustees in support of legislation to make all SUNY campuses tobacco free. Under these tobacco and smoke-free parameters, “smoking of any kind and other uses of tobacco products on campus, at extension campuses, at all indoor and outdoor events, college sponsored programs and activities off campus, in personally owned vehicles parked on campus, and all vehicles and equipment owned leased or operated by the College and its affiliate organizations,” according to SUNY Oswego’s updated smoke free and tobacco free policy.
Currently, schools like SUNY Oswego and SUNY Albany operate under the 25-feet rule, which allows students and faculty to smoke on campus as long as they remain at least 25 feet from any academic or dormitory buildings.
“The smoke does not bother me,” said junior graphic design student Rebecca Williams, who claims that after living on campus for three years, she is used to it. “Everyone knows that the most popular smoking areas are outside of Penfield and Mahar. They are easily avoidable.”
Despite student statements of acceptance of current smoke and tobacco policies, Oswego’s designated task force, SUNY Oswego Clean Air Committee, is more concerned with implementing this ban in order to ensure sustainability of the campus with the elimination of tobacco-related litter and to avoid health concerns from secondhand-smoke.
“Respectfully observing this policy will reduce the health risk and environmental
byproducts of tobacco use and other smoking materials,” the SUNY Oswego smoke and tobacco free policy reads. “To make that possible, mutual respect for each other and the community’s well-being is fundamental to all members assuming responsibility to create and maintain the quality of our learning community.”
In this collaborative effort among students, faculty, task force members, and governing officials, numerous on-campus campaigns have blossomed in order to help spread the word about the upcoming changes, what to expect, and how to help students and faculty kick their smoking habits.
One of these campaigns is ‘Stache the Ash, organized by the peer educators and interns from the on-campus Lifestyles Center. The main focus of this particular campaign is to raise awareness of tobacco-related health issues as well as helping to organize efforts to help students break the habit.
Taking to social media sites with the use of the hashtag #StacheTheAsh, students have posted smokeless selfies featuring handwritten sentiments on why they choose to refrain from tobacco use.
The ‘Stache the Ash campaign is not alone in helping students and faculty gain access to means of adapting to the tobacco cessation, providing help to quit smoking, as well as ensuring that the Oswego campus is a healthy one.
The SUNY Oswego Clean Air Committee launched the Oz Quits website in order to inform the campus of the new policies while maintaining their commitment to educating the masses, as well as offering support to those looking to kick the habit.
Oz Quits features Youtube videos documenting the on-campus student experience with smoking and the journey to quit, as well videos reenacting common triggers that keep pulling people back into smoking, such as break ups and peer pressure.
In congruence with the annual American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, a day that allows people to either “make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. The Great American Smokeout event challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps people know about the many tools they can use to help them quit and stay quit,” according to the American Cancer Society’s website, the Oz Quits campaign held a Preparing to Quit Smoking Workshop for students and faculty alike.
The Mary Walker Health Center has also responded to the cessation and now offers mediation, nicotine patches and gums to those who are looking to adapt a healthier, tobacco-free lifestyle. The Lifestyles Center will continue to provide peer education and group guidance throughout the quitting process.
In a 2013 survey of students, faculty and staff on campus, it was determined that approximately 15 percent of the respondents currently use tobacco products. Of this percentage, about half of the smokers said they were planning or willing to quit smoking.
With these new policy changes, there are high hopes that this number will decrease over time and a smoke and tobacco-free lifestyle will make for not only a healthier campus, but a healthier community.
For more information on the tobacco and smoke ban, please contact the Clean Air Committee at [email protected]