Campus going tobacco free

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Over the summer, the administration announced that Union will become a smoke- and tobacco-free campus on July 1, 2016.

Chief of Staff Rob Kelly stated that the decision was made due to Union’s commitment to “promoting health, wellness and prevention within its community, as well as providing a healthy learning and working environment for administration, faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors and vendors.”

Union will join over 70 other colleges across New York state in efforts to eliminate tobacco use from their campuses.

As of today, all Union buildings and campus vehicles are smoke-free. There are designated areas across campus where smoking is allowed.

Next year, the entire campus will be tobacco- and smoke-free. This new rule will apply to all students, faculty, staff, contractors hired out by the college and anyone who steps onto the campus.

Kelly defined smoking and tobacco use as “using any type of tobacco product including, but not limited to, cigarettes (commercial, handmade or electronic), cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs, vape pens, oral tobacco (spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff) or any other similar smoking material or delivery device including anything that simulates smoking.”

This change on campus is spearheaded by the Task Force for a Tobacco/Smoke-Free Union. The task force is made up of students, faculty and staff.

The college’s Planning and Priorities Committee will fund the project with money from Union’s strategic plan implementation grant program.

Today, smoking and tobacco are quite noticeable on campus. When asked how the program can be maintained, Kelly stated, “Effective implementation and success of the Smoke/Tobacco-Free Policy depends upon the courtesy, respect, thoughtfulness, consideration and cooperation of all smoking and non-smoking members of the Union College community.”

Kelly went on to say that students, faculty and staff are encouraged to help implement Union’s new rule.

He stated, “All members of the community are encouraged to advise other employees, students and visitors about the policy, suggest to anyone smoking that they not smoke on the campus or on college-owned properties and, when appropriate, direct smokers off the campus.”

The new rule is being carried out due to the understanding of the hazard smoking provides.

Kelly said, “Union College recognizes that smoking, breathing secondhand smoke, or using tobacco products constitutes a significant health, safety and environmental hazard for students, employees, visitors and campus facilities. The College is committed to promoting health, wellness and prevention within its community, as well as providing a healthy learning and working environment for administration, faculty, staff, students, visitors, contractors and vendors.”

The decision has been unpopular amongst some students, including Ryan Asselin ’16, who said, “Obviously it’s the healthy choice, but the college is making people’s decisions for them. Union College, which is not a commuter school, feels the need to eliminate smoking any product on its campus, which does not accommodate the students that choose to live that lifestyle.” Arguments like Asselin’s rest mostly on the idea that using tobacco products is legal for students over the age of 18.

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