By Sandra Stelmach
Stony Brook University released a campus wide announcement in mid-May that the campus would be taking a tobacco-free initiative. A draft of the policy will be made available to the community by early next semester.
The State University Board passed a policy in January 2007, that banned indoor smoking on SUNY campuses.
The Board of Trustees of the State University of New York then passed a resolution in June 2012 mandating all 64 SUNY campuses become tobacco-free. This includes smoking inside of vehicles owned and leased by SUNY.
Some SUNY campuses have already experienced these changes. This includes Oswego, Buffalo and Farmingdale, which just recently took on the policy.
Stony Brook Medicine was the first on campus to go tobacco and smoke free in January 2009.
This policy applies to students, faculty, staff, visitors, patients and volunteers. Yet, the changes in policy were made without any community input.
“I am paying to be over here. I’m paying to study over here, and this is like my area to hang out. If I wanna smoke over here, I should be allowed to smoke,” said Ankit Patel, a student smoker.
Previous efforts such as cigarette disposals with signs clutter the campus. The disposals are placed near campus buildings in order to prevent smoking in front of the buildings’ entrances. It is also part of an effort to control the clouds of smoke.
Stony Brook Medicine, located on the East side of campus, had no designated area for smokers. In regards to the main campus, no designated smoking area for students has been discussed by the University officials.
Some smokers who are just hearing about the ban for the first time do not seem too worried. Without any known consequences or repercussions stated to the campus community, the effectiveness of this policy is questioned.
“Who’s gonna come up and be like, ‘Oh, you can’t smoke on campus’? Like, I’m probably gonna sneak cigarettes behind like somewhere, like a building or something,” said Maura Boehm, a student smoker. “Like it’s not gonna stop it. You know? It’s just gonna make people wanna do it more.”
Donna Buehler, Director of Organizational Wellness & Healthier U Initiatives, spoke about Nicotine Replacement Therapy for tobacco users.
“So when people need gum, lozenges, patches, that kind of thing that has nicotine in it as people get weaned off,” Buehler said. “Sort of what what we would call detox from nicotine which is an addiction. It’s not a habit. It’s an addiction.”
The university is offering students, faculty and staff alternative means to their addiction. Nicotine Replacement Therapy is substituting tobacco products such as cigarettes with other products that contain nicotine which is responsible for causing the addiction.
Although the nicotine therapy products will be offered for free, Stony Brook University will be adding $1.50 to the student health fee which is seen on the tuition. This applies to both smokers and non-smokers. The funds will go towards helping to pay for nicotine replacement therapy products.
The current smoke-free policy for Stony Brook University is still in effect. The new tobacco-free policy is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2014.