The City University of New York (CUNY) recently announced they will become the largest smoke-free university system in the nation.
This expands the current policy that already bans smoking within all university buildings and vehicles to include the whole campus – indoors and outdoors. All 23 CUNY campuses must implement the new policy by September 2012.
“As the nation’s largest urban public university CUNY has an opportunity, and a responsibility, to set appropriate standards as an example for universities seeking to protect the health of their students and employees,” said Board of Trustees chairperson Benno Schmidt and CUNY chancellor Matthew Goldstein in a joint statement.
This ban will effect under 15 percent of the over 480,000 students attending CUNY schools that are currently smokers. By making all campuses smoke-free, CUNY also hopes this will be the impetus for smokers to quit.
“Part of our job is to promote the basic values of 21st century higher education in the United States,” said Alexandra W. Logue, CUNY executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “These values include cultivating respect for others, emphasizing the importance of health and wellness, supporting environmental sustainability.”
CUNY joins over 450 colleges and universities nationwide that have already instituted similar smoking bans on campus.
“I heartily congratulate the board at CUNY for taking this groundbreaking step to protect the health of its students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner. “I urge members of the CUNY community who smoke to use this as an opportunity to quit, as it is the single most important step you can take to improve your health.”
More than 7,200 smoking related deaths occurred within New York City in 2009, which accounts for over 13 percent of fatalities. According to the U.S. surgeon general, it is not just smoking that presents risks; secondhand smoke is also dangerous to health. Exposure to secondhand smoke, even if it is outdoors, can be harmful.
“We’re excited about not having cigarettes where young people congregate and can be exposed to secondhand smoke,” said Diana Fryda of New York Public Interest Research Group.