Smoke-free SUNY proposed

Jun 25, 2012

Top officials in the SUNY system want to ban all tobacco use on its 64 colleges campuses.  Adam Wolfe has the story.

Since 2007, smoking has been prohibited within 20 feet of SUNY buildings. And it's not allowed inside any structure, including dorms, either. But if the SUNY Board of Trustees has its way, smokers won't be able to light up anywhere on SUNY's 64 campuses -- and they mean anywhere -- including outdoor parks.

The governing board has passed a resolution calling for the legislature to ban the use of all tobacco on SUNY campuses by 2014, says Gary Giovino. He teaches community health at the University of Buffalo and lobbied the board in favor of the change.

"You know, society is changing, said Giovino. "There are hundreds and hundreds of college campuses that have gone tobacco-free and smoke-free. The whole University of California system has also declared a similar resolution. SUNY is in very good company."

There are 711 campuses in the U.S. to be exact. But all 64 SUNY campuses won't join their ranks just yet. Collective-bargaining rules don't allow schools to prohibit thier union faculty and staff from smoking. That's because the rule would be more restrictive than current state law. So the board’s resolution is non-binding. The legislature would have to pass a new law to enforce such a ban.

Even if passed, the ban won't change things at SUNY Canton, Cortland or Upstate Medical University. Those campuses are among several that already have a tobacco-free policy.