Great American Smokeout emphasizes tobacco policy

SUNY Buffalo State joined in the Great American Smokeout last week with a series of student-centered events leading up the SUNY Regional Tobacco-free meeting on Thursday in the Mildred A. Campbell Student Union Social Hall.

Buffalo State hosted the regional meeting of SUNY health directors, deans of student life and local health organizations. The critical thinking workshop and information sharing session was designed to help teach faculty how best to talk about the policy with students.

People go to college to improve their quality of life, and faculty must engage with students to show them how giving up their tobacco dependence will contribute to that, said featured speaker Ty Patterson, of the National Center for Tobacco Policy.

Patterson also continued to emphasize that it is important for employees to demonstrate respect for students and others, regardless of what their opinion of the policy is.

Tobacco use affects the health of individual students, as well as the overall atmosphere and comfort level of the campus itself.

“Ask yourself how a custodian who cleans out urinals feels about chew?” Patterson asked. “Does it make their job any easier to clean it off the bottom of the urinal? How does it feel to be next to someone spitting chew into a bottle during a class?”

The meeting also emphasized the decision to focus on all tobacco use rather than just smoking in the SUNY campus policy, first endorsed by the SUNY Board of Trustees in June of 2012. A completely tobacco free policy is easier to enforce than the designated area policy formerly in effect and includes all other harmful ways tobacco can hurt people.

Though the tobacco use policy extends to the residence halls, the policy is not enforced in people’s private vehicles that allow residence hall students a place to go that isn’t necessarily completely off campus.

During the meeting, the Great American Smokeout Tobacco-Free Photo Project occurred downstairs in the lobby, in association with Weigel Health Promotions. Students came to get their photo taken with Benji the Bengal, the Buffalo State mascot.

Wiegel Health Promotions is using trained and certified students as tobacco-free ambassadors, Lazarus Lynch said, a peer educator.

The ambassadors’ goal is to not necessarily get someone to quit smoking, but to create awareness and educate students about the policy, Lynch said.

On Tuesday, the Tobacco Cessation Center, housed at Roswell Park, joined the Wiegel Health Center for tobacco-free tabling.

Tobacco Cession Center Coordinator Heather Bashaw visited the table with a carbon monoxide (CO) monitor and measured CO levels in smoker’s lungs.

Smoking exposes people to carbon monoxide. Their blood pressure and heart rates rise and they get winded more easily. After 24 hours of quitting those signs cease and the CO level returns to normal, Bashaw said. When the level of CO in blood increases, it makes the blood less capable of carrying oxygen.

The tobacco-free tabling also offered prizes through the USG wheel and coupons to take to the Wiegel Health Center to redeem a free pack of gum in order to help smokers distract themselves.


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