The long awaited CUNY-wide smoking ban was put into effect at the January 24 meeting of the Board of Trustees, prohibiting the use of tobacco on all CUNY properties, as well as advertising by tobacco companies.
The ban, made public on the CUNY website last semester, will go into effect as part of an initiative to promote better health among students and staff. As of yet, there has been no talk about the creation of designated smoking areas. Students and employees wishing to smoke will be forced to leave CUNY property.
The ban will be put into effect on all CUNY campuses no later than September 4th, 2012.
“CUNY’s vision for the enforcement of the revised tobacco policy is one in which a tobacco-free campus is viewed as the shared responsibility of all those in the campus community,”said Luis Manzo, University Director of Mental Health and Wellness Services.
“While enforcing the policy, campus officials and representatives are encouraged to be friendly and respectful.” Individual schools will have until the fall 2012 deadline to determine enforcement policies, submitting implementation plans to the Chancellor’s office by June 30, 2011.
Over four-hundred and twenty campuses nationwide have already banned the use of tobacco products. Some universities, like the University of Iowa, fine individuals for violating their tobacco free policies. Currently, CUNY does not have plans to fine individuals for violating the smoking ban.
CUNY will work with The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Tobacco Control to create their anti-smoking campaign. There will be anti-tobacco posters on campus as well as a University-wide tobacco-free policy poster design contest to encourage awareness and adherence . Brochures explaining the harmful effects of tobacco products will be disseminated to the student body.
In order to help tobacco-users with the transition the new smoke-free environment, health centers on CUNY campuses will offer services to help individuals quit smoking.
“CUNY is working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Tobacco Control by obtaining nicotine replacement materials, such as patches and gum, which will be distributed to those who are interested in stopping smoking,”said Manzo.
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley encourages CUNY students to take advantage of this policy as an opportunity to quit. CUNY estimates that around 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and believe that limiting where they can smoke helps them. Over 85 percent of CUNY students and employees are estimated to be non-smokers.
Additionally, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene , CUNY will training counseling center and health services staff in tobacco cessation protocols,highlighting the tobacco cessation benefits offered by employee and student health insurance plans.
In conjunction with the indoor smoking bans passed by Mayor Bloomberg, as well as the Feb. 2 ban on smoking at public parks and beaches, many free or low cost tobacco cessation services have been made available in New York City. Through the city’s annual Nicotine Patch and Gum program, free cessation aids have been distributed to over 200,000 smokers since 2003.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene estimates that 7,500 New Yorkers die annually from stroke, heart attack, cancer, and other smoking-related illnesses.
CUNY released an open letter in the summer of 2010 stating possible changes for their tobacco policy and asked for feedback, hoping to create a program which met the desires of the community.
“Early on in drafting this new policy the University has conducted surveys, and the vast majority of responders – from students, faculty, and administrators – support this policy,” said University Student Senate Chair and Board of Trustees member Cory Provost.
“The vote was unanimous and I believe it is important for the university to champion a healthy environment for all its students,” said Provost. “This policy helps to put the University in the best position to do so.”
The university feels that students will support the smoking ban because they want to be protected from second hand smoke. “We believe that faculty, staff, and students will embrace the elimination of tobacco from campus property,” said Manzo.
“The revised tobacco policy would protect CUNY students, faculty and staff who do not smoke from exposure to harmful second hand smoke at places where smokers now congregate.”
Still, some students view the new smoking ban as a policy that undermines personal liberties, increasingly so as NYC anti-smoking laws are expanded.
“It seems as if they are infringing on people’s rights,” said senior political science and history major Luis Korman. “Banning smoking indoors is reasonable, but smoking outside should be allowed.”
CUNY banned smoking indoors in 1994. Almost two decades later, smoking is banned on all CUNY property.