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Becoming a tobacco-free campus
October 6, 2016Tweet
Binghamton University plans to become tobacco free in 10 months. A policy will go into effect Aug. 1, 2017, to ban use of all tobacco products on University property, and two committees have been working for months to help the campus – and tobacco users – prepare.
“We have about 30 people on the primary Tobacco-Free Initiative Campus Committee and 11 including myself on the Policy Development and Campus Communications subcommittee,” said JoAnn Navarro, vice president for operations and chair of the policy committee. “There are about 20 on the Education and Smoking Cessation Programming subcommittee, chaired by Johann Fiore-Conte, assistant vice president for health and wellness.”
“The committees have representation from all of the unions, students, every division, the Professional Staff Senate and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee,” said Fiore-Conte. “In addition, we have members from the Broome County Department of Health, the Employee Assistance Program, Sodexo, the Healthy Campus Initiative and the Research Foundation as well as from the Graduate Student Organization, the Student Association and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.”
Each subcommittee meets separately, but the two also come together jointly every other month.
There are two basic reasons the campus is moving to a tobacco-free environment, said Navarro. “One is that SUNY – and perhaps New York state – will require it at some point in time, so this way we can implement our policy in a much more organized and compassionate fashion, rather than be pressured to implement a policy someone else’s way or on someone else’s timeline.
“But the other important reason is that we are working toward making Binghamton University a healthier campus,” Navarro said.
“Moving to a tobacco-free campus is a topic that has been raised for quite some time. Many locations in the community have made this transition and it makes sense that we do so as well,” said Fiore-Conte.
“Initially, we’ve been involved in developing the policy, which included gathering feedback from the campus,” Navarro said. “Our FAQs and resources are on the website, and we’ve placed signage throughout the campus on doors and smoker’s poles. We are not dictating that people have to quit using tobacco products, but we are saying that they cannot use them while on campus property.”
Activity is now ramping up to educate different stakeholder groups. Navarro and Fiore-Conte will attend the CSEA membership meeting in November, and the policy is on the agenda for the upcoming Building Administrator meeting. Ada Robinson-Perez, associate director of the Employee Assistance Program, has already met with each shift in Physical Facilities, and cessation classes that include free access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) are forming, the first set to begin Oct. 20.
Responses are also coming in from the Tobacco-Free Assessment survey that recently launched. Results are expected to provide the campus with a clearer understanding of how many people use tobacco products on campus, where they use them and how frequently. The data gathered from the survey will help drive decisions on what resources the campus can and should provide for those who use tobacco products – whether they wish to totally quit or choose instead to find a way to avoid use of tobacco products when they are on campus.
“If people want to quit smoking, what kinds of things would help them?” Fiore-Conte asked. “The survey responses will help us further develop resources that can help, including behavior modification classes and cessation programming, NRT and even our plans focusing on the Great American Smoke Out on Nov. 17. Our smoke-out activities will be in collaboration with student groups including Colleges Against Cancer and our REACH peers. The students are really starting to get engaged.”
Enforcement of the policy is a major question on people’s mind, but Navarro said it’s simple: “Enforcement will be no different than for our current smoking policy. We’ll ask people to kindly remind their colleagues that the campus is tobacco free if they are comfortable doing so,” she said. “And, if they’re not, they can see a supervisor. We hope to use Human Resources and the Office of Student Conduct as a last effort for situations that become truly egregious.”
Human Resources is placing a statement about the policy on all employment postings and employment documentation, Navarro added. “And we’re continuing our educational outreach, developing a training program for supervisors and working with offices on campus that liaison with vendors so we make sure that everyone who comes onto campus will know.”
The training for supervisors, to begin in the spring, will address what to do when supervisors encounter an employee smoking or when another employee comes to them and says someone is smoking. “We want to help supervisors in these situations so they can deal with them in a compassionate way,” Navarro said. “Hopefully, this will raise the level of conversation and avoid further issues.”