Students blowing smoke at college tobacco ban


Eric Bomysoad

Rebecca Scaccia smoking on a bench outside Bulger.

The current smoking policy on the SUNY Buffalo State campus bans the use of all tobacco products.

Buffalo State models its tobacco policy after many other college campuses that have also made the switch to smoke-free.

The College Senate voted on this policy in May 2011, and it took effect Jan. 1, 2012. The objective was to prevent litter caused by cigarettes and to promote mutual respect for the campus population.

The College Smoking Policy charges Buffalo State vice president Hal Payne with the responsibility of implementing it. Payne foresees a tobacco-free future for the entire campus.

“We ask members of the community to refrain from using tobacco on campus,” Payne said.

There are currently no negative repercussions for using tobacco products on campus like issuing citations. Administration is working toward an overall culture change that will result in fewer and fewer tobacco users on campus.

“We have a covenant among ourselves,” Payne said. “We as a community, lead by the college senate, agree not to smoke on campus. We are not currently issuing sanctions related to violations of our agreement.”

Selina Rivera, an employee of Chartwells, said that she has been smoking for a long time.

“If they really want it tobacco-free, they are probably really going to have to enforce it,” Rivera said.

Payne said that he is currently looking into the possible results of a more aggressive approach, using the University at Buffalo and Niagara County Community College as models.

“We are trying to protect not only the health of smokers, but the health for other people who are exposed to smoking,” Payne said.

Tammy Kresge, assistant director of health promotions, has a significant role in the education aspect of smoking cessation.

“It’s a process,” Kresge said. “It’s more about culture change than it is about enforcement. So we are just doing the best we can to get the message out there.”

Kresge said she wants it to be a positive thing. Instead of making people feel differently, or unwelcome, the emphasis will be on providing support for people who want to quit, but don’t know where to start.

“Most people on this campus are not smokers, and they want a smoke-free campus,” Kresge said. “… They want to be able to walk into the union without having to walk through the famous cloud of smoke that you have to walk through.”

Lacey-Ann Allen, a non-smoking freshman studying biology, said that smoking on campus does not bother her at all.

“I feel like you should be able to do whatever you want,” Allen said. “Maybe not inside the dorms, but outside in your own space, why not?”

Even though violating the policy goes unpunished now, it is written into the current policy that disciplinary action can be taken against violators.

“It’s really about average students and staff like me, and you being able to feel confident to tell people ‘please, can you put out your cigarette, it’s a tobacco-free campus,’” Kresge said.

Kresge explained that the move toward a completely tobacco-free campus happens in phases. Raising awareness of the issue by appearing at campus events is one way that Buffalo State has been bringing attention to the issue.

“We recently reminded students of this covenant during Union Bash,” Payne said. “We are going to be focusing on the Great American Smokeout around Nov. 21 as a time when we will recommit ourselves to our campus covenant.”

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Twitter: @andrewmanzella