posted 2012-09-21 19:50:56

CUNY’s Tobacco-Free Policy Goes Into Effect

No butts about it    

Lisa Babel

Contributing Writer
With the start of the 2012 fall semester, Hunter College is now a tobacco-free campus. Hunter College – and the rest of CUNY – enacted a tobacco-free policy that took effect on Sept. 4, no longer permitting the use of tobacco products on school grounds, both indoors and out.

The revised Tobacco-Free Policy has established CUNY as the largest smoke- free university in the United States. Hunter College is now one of over 400 other colleges and universities across the nation to implement a smoke-free policy. The use of all tobacco products, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, wooden and glass pipes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, are now prohibited.

Christian Gogatz, 20, a Media Studies major, felt the policy wouldn’t change much around Hunter College. “No one is going to stop smoking because of [the policy],” Gogatz said. “There should still be a designated smoking area near the school, instead of making a smoker who needs to go to class or study, walk down the road to have a cigarette.”

During the first 18 months of enactment, Public Safety patrol will be assigned to all outdoor locations, as well as more frequent patrols on all outdoor terraces, to ensure compliance, according to Hunter College senate minutes from earlier in the year. Faculty and staff have been directed to inform others of the tobacco-free policy as well. Removal of visual cues, cigarette butt containers, and the elimination of receptacles located on all outdoor terraces, including the entrances and exits and courtyards of the Brookdale campus, will also occur.
Furthermore, to enforce the new regulations, individuals found to be smoking on campus will be issued a “Reminder Card.” Subsequent offenses will result in harsher punishment. If a student living in the Brookdale Residency Hall is caught smoking, for example, the individual will receive a $350 fine, according to the Resident Life office. If the student is found violating the policy thereafter, he or she will be removed from the dormitory.

Andrew Timofey, 22, studying Spanish Literature said, “I’m trying to quit smoking and will be trying not to smoke while at school.”

Since the smoking ban took effect, there have been minimal violations encountered by safety patrol. The Chief Operating Officer of Hunter College Leonard Zinnanti, confirmed

the observations, stating “Thus far the experience on campus has been a positive one with most smokers remaining off college property and those that have been approached have been respectful and understanding of the new policy. We anticipate that this response will continue in this fashion and will continuously remind the community of the policy and the positive progress being made.”

The impact of the smoking ban is uncertain, however Mildred Rodriguez, 26, majoring in Africana and Puerto Rican-Latino Studies, is looking forward to the changes that lay ahead, stating, “Hopefully, it will nudge some smokers into rethinking an unhealthy and expensive habit. This will make our shared spaces more enjoyable for all.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that tobacco use is the leading factor for preventable deaths in the world. The Surgeon General has concluded that over 8 million Americans are suffering from a smoke-related illness, and it is estimated that one in every five deaths are caused from tobacco use. Secondhand smoke has also been determined to be dangerous to one’s health.

The Tobacco-Free Policy is expected to promote a safe and healthy atmosphere conducive to learning for students, as well as faculty, staff, and visitors through a smoke-free environment. In doing so, the policy may encourage smokers to seek cessation. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the Office of Wellness Services to learn more on how to quit smoking. Faculty and staff can also receive information from the CUNY Work/ Life Program.

Zinnanti emphasized the importance of unity and support for the new Tobacco- Free Policy, saying, “This is a group effort and we encourage all to participate in creating a culture of a smoke and tobacco- free environment.”