SU forms task force to investigate having smoke-free campus

The university’s Campus Sustainability Committee has created a task force to explore the option of making the school a tobacco-free campus after a student survey revealed that many oppose smoking.

There are about 1,182 smoke-free campuses in the United States, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a national lobbying organization for nonsmokers. Syracuse University Alcohol, Other Drugs and Tobacco Policies discourages students from “using tobacco where it is offensive to others.” Yet, the policy recognizes the right to smoke where it’s legally permitted.

Outlawing tobacco on campus has been a point of discussion for many years, said Thomas Dennison, director of the program in Health Services Management and Policy.

The task force is still finalizing the results of a faculty and staff survey about the current number of tobacco users on campus, Dennison said. National and New York state studies are also helping the task force get an idea of tobacco use on campus, he added.

If the campus were to become tobacco-free, there would be some obstacles, but Dennison said they are mostly involved with implementing such a policy.

The biggest roadblocks, he said, would be in communications and making students aware that the campus is tobacco-free once the change happens.

“I don’t think that they are obstacles that are insurmountable,” Dennison said. He said he believes there’s a high probability the campus will become tobacco-free at some point.

Dennison said he understands cultural differences in attitudes toward tobacco when to comes to international students, and added that SU would take these differences into account with the decision.

Some students appear skeptical whether the university should further control smoking.

“If you look around, so many people are smoking, so how could you control that? And it’s legal,” said Ben Martines.

Martines, a freshman music industry major, added that as long as students were respectful with their smoking, it should not be a campus-wide problem.

Zhan Zhao, a sophomore mathematics major who said she did not smoke, appeared to agree with Martines’ view.

“Students should be allowed to smoke as long as they’re not bothering anybody,” she said.

She added that even if the university did ban tobacco on campus, students would probably smoke regardless.

If the university ends up prohibiting tobacco use, services that help smokers quit would be ramped up, Dennison said. One program designed to help students stop smoking is Quit and Stay Quit Monday, he said.

Said Dennison: “We need to give people an opportunity to prepare for a tobacco-free campus.”


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