Union announced that as of July 1, 2016, Union will be a smoke free/tobacco free campus.
This campaign is being led by the “Task Force for a Tobacco/Smoke-Free Union,” a committee made up of members with the mutual goal of promoting campus-wide anti-smoking sentiment and awareness.
This initiative mandates that the entire campus, including campus properties and campus vehicles, will be smoke/tobacco-free.
Listing the products that will be prohibited on July 1, the initial press release states that “Smoking and tobacco use is defined as using any type of tobacco product including, but not limited to, cigarettes (commercial, handmade and 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 provides a basic outline for the myriad of products that will be prohibited as of July 1, 2016. The selling and advertising of tobacco products are also set to be restricted. The new initiative has been received with mixed opinions by Union students, faculty, and staff.
“While I understand that societal preferences may be changing, and the policy may be difficult to enforce, it is reasonable for the college to follow through on what other schools have done. The social convention of protecting the wellbeing of students, faculty, and staff is still there,” says Andy Zou ’17.
Conversely, students such as Alex Tellides ’19 believe that the ultimate goal of this initiative to promote health, wellness, and prevention in the community is not being upheld due to Union’s consistent distribution of unhealthy foods and beverages, making it an unfair double standard to ban tobacco.
“This new policy is just another example of the school overstepping its bounds and limiting the freedom of the student all together, which I find very threatening and unethical as an individual in the Union community,” Tellides states.
Union is currently in the process of educating the college community on the effects of nicotine, and providing various cessation strategies for students, faculty and staff who aim to discontinue the use of tobacco/smoking products.
Recent weeks have been dedicated to events in support of the new initiative.
The task force’s preliminary action was establishing five session of group acupuncture therapy, every Monday April 11 to May 16, to provide “Supportive, complementary care for smoking cessation, stress and anxiety relief, depression, insomnia, trauma, grief and other mental health and wellness objectives,” as stated on the acupuncture alert email.
During the sessions, participants meet with a licensed New York State acupuncturist, who will position fine, single-use needles in five specific areas behind the ears.
Participants sit for about 30 to 40 minutes for the (encouraged) five sessions in order to receive the maximum amount of alleviation. The acupuncture therapy proved effective in attracting members, as 23 of the 24 spots were filled.
The second event, labeled the “Breathe Easy: Steps to a Smoke-Free Life” lunch-in, was held on April 12 to inform participants of the damaging effects of nicotine and the most efficient resources for dealing with cessation and withdrawal.
Currently, the task force is mounting poster campaign, in which “We’re kicking the habit” posters are distributed throughout all Union-owned property in order to raise campus-wide awareness.
What does the tobacco/smoke-free initiative have in store for future anti-smoking support? In conjunction with Student Forum, a two to three day tabling event will take place outside of Reamer Campus Center at a currently undetermined date.
“The hope is that the tabling event, which will include free nicotine gum, patches and lozenges, will further raise everyone’s awareness of the upcoming July 1 effective date,” says Chief Human Resources Officer Eric Noll.