The University at Albany is joining a number of college campuses across the country in becoming tobacco free.
UAlbany is now prohibiting the use of any smoking and vaping products on campus. ***
The policy went into effect Wednesday amid the state’s ongoing effort to ban flavored e-cigarettes following warnings from health officials that vaping may cause illnesses and even become fatal in young people. University spokesperson Jordan Carleo-Evangelist: "You know there are many many campuses that have been doing this over the last decade, and really, it's about making a decision that's best for the health of everybody. And anytime you make a big change like this you know that it's gonna be difficult for some people, and we understand that, which is why it was phased in over a couple of years. "
Carleo-Evangelist says UAlbany is offering smoking-cessation resources for faculty, staff and students. university President Havidán Rodríguez signed the policy in November 2018, with plans to implement it in January 2019 but it was postponed. "It's about encouraging and empowering members of our community to make healthier choices for themselves, so it's based on research within our own community, and nationally it suggests the vast majority of students do want to live and learn in smoke-free communities. And also understanding that on balance it's the healthiest decision for all members of our community."
Julie Hart is Senior Director for The American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network. "It's exciting to see that SUNY Albany is prioritizing health and that their tobacco-free policy is now fully phased in. We're really excited about this and glad that it includes all tobacco products and that it also includes electronic and vaping products as well. It's really important that it's comprehensive."
Aina Ihzam is a senior at UAlbany. “It's good, I guess for the sake of you know, some people's health. But I do see people smoke before, before the ban came up. So it's a big difference now I don't see much people smoke now.” Carleo-Evangelist notes the vast majority of UAlbany students don't smoke and adds the policy includes marijuana use. "Smoking marijuana, whether or not it is legal in New York, would not be permitted on our campus."
All designated smoking areas on campus have been eliminated. The policy states that students will not be allowed to use any kind of tobacco product on campus property, including dorms, classrooms and outdoor common areas. The use of tobacco products in students' personal vehicles on campus property will also be prohibited.
Senior Jeff Doherty spoke on the SUNY campus Thursday afternoon: “If someone wants to smoke they’ll find a way of doing it. And admittedly, sort of, the eyes on the campus, the biggest authority, like a police officer or something like that, there aren’t that many of them, so they’ll probably keep continuing it in some way.”
But there won't be any "smoke police." Carleo-Evangelist says the emphasis will not be on enforcement. "Certainly we expect as a matter of courtesy that members of our community are going to adhere to it. If someone is seen to have repeatedly violated the policy, we are allowed to reach out to them, educate them as to what the rules are, make available to them resources to help quit smoking."