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Syracuse University goes tobacco free

Ellen Abbott
Smoke free signs went up on the SU campus July 1.

Syracuse University has joined the ranks of college campuses that are now smoke free.

The ban goes in effect this month.  Work crews dismantled all of the cigarette butt receptacles and signs went up alerting anyone to the new policy, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes,  and chewing tobacco.  

Gail Grozalis, executive director of the University Wellness Initiative, says vaping is also on the list.

"E-cigarettes have been included as an exclusion to the policy because it is actually a best practice and it mimics the action of smoking.  And they are also not approved as a smoking cessation device at this time,” said Grozalis.

There are a couple of exclusions.  Smoking is ok outside during events at the Sheraton, Drumlins, Syracuse Stage and the Carrier Dome through 2017, and the dome issue will be revisited at that time.

Officials estimate 16 percent of the staff and students at SU smoke, and the school is offering free smoking cessation classes for anyone who wants to quit.  

“We’ve been running them all spring semester.  We plan on running them in the fall.  We are partnering with Upstate medical to bring them on campus,” said Grozalis.

Rebecca Bostwick, a member of SU’s Tobacco Advisory Committee, says the university made a great effort to make sure students, faculty and staff who still smoke be aware of the change.

“Having the conversations up front, and letting people know back in October and November that we were going tobacco free in July. So we had a comment period, we had focus groups, there were certainly opportunity for discussion, so we didn’t spring it on anybody and it really is going to take the entire campus for this to succeed, so we wanted to start on the right foot,” said Bostwick.

SU is among over 1,000 universities nationwide that have gone tobacco free. Those locally that have adopted that policy include SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oswego and SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.