SU promotes tobacco-free policy through Great American Smokeout activities

Smoking will be prohibited on the Syracuse University campus beginning in summer 2015.

A large glass vase filled to the brim with burnt-out cigarette butts sat in Schine Student Center on Thursday. The depository represented Syracuse University’s latest policy change — come July 1, 2015, SU is quitting smoking for good.

The decision to make campus a tobacco-free zone, which was announced on Nov. 11, came just in time for the annually celebrated Great American Smokeout on Thursday. SU, in collaboration with health services, used the day to make an extra effort to promote the change.

Cigarette butts were collected outside Bird Library on Wednesday.

Amy Hong, a public health senior and health services intern, played a large part in organizing the activities for the Great American Smokeout, which were designed to inspire smokers to quit. For the vase of cigarette butts, for example, Hong said that she and a co-worker had collected the butts from outside Bird Library the previous day. “We filled that jar from just one day,” Hong said.

In addition to the “just one day” display, there was an informational table set up in Schine laden with games and trivia, through which passers-by were quizzed about the heath concerns related to smoking. “A lot of people don’t realize that there’s over 4,000 chemicals in one cigarette,” Hong said.

For those just passing through, there were free “cold turkey” sandwiches given to all who signed a banner showing their intention to quit smoking or their support of the new tobacco-free initiative.

Striving to create a smoke-free culture on campus is a decision that comes after nearly a decade of deliberation, research and social commentary within the Syracuse community. Hong said the first draft of the policy, issued on Nov. 11, was written by an Upstate Medical University epidemiologist hired especially for the job. This draft marked the beginning of a 10-day grace period in which students, staff and faculty were encouraged to bring any comments and concerns regarding the new policy to the administration.

By the summer of 2015, smoking will not only be prohibited inside university buildings but also outside on all property owned, operated and controlled by the institution. To ensure complete satisfaction with the new policy, the tobacco-free guidelines will go under review at least three more times, said Erin Kane, SU’s associate vice president for public relations. The University Senate, the Student Association and a series of open community forums will all be involved in the reviewing process, Kane said.

Under the new guidelines, SU will join what the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation recently reported to be 1,477 other smoke-free campuses nationwide. Institutions surrounding SU, including Crouse Hospital, the College of Nursing and the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, are also smoke-free. The general policy statement stated that the move to a tobacco-free campus at SU is “to help ensure a healthy, productive, respectful environment in which to work, learn and live.”

SU’s Department of Public Safety recognizes that policing the new policy will need to be a community effort. “As far as enforcement and how the policy is going to play out, DPS has essentially the same role as any other faculty, staff or student,” said Hannah Warren, who acts as the public information and internal communications officer for DPS. “If someone is seen smoking on campus after July 1, 2015, anyone can and should approach them in a non-confrontational way and ask them to stop.”

When asked about concerns regarding the new policy, Warren suggested that those who can no longer smoke on university property may experience a lack of inclusion. Hong countered this opinion, however, saying, “Also promoted today is the support groups that will become available to faculty, students and staff for those who are making a conscious effort to quit smoking and need a helping hand down that road.”

Those who have any opinions, thoughts or ideas regarding the refurbished tobacco policy on campus are encouraged to send them to

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