“Smoke-Free” Exploratory Committee to be Formed

Hannah Fuchs

Colgate is currently in the process of forming a “Smoke-Free” Exploratory Committee to investigate the options surrounding smoking policies on campus. Colgate currently allows smoking on campus, though not in indoor spaces.

SGA President Sam Flood initially proposed the idea of a “smoke-free” campus.

“I believe exploration of whether Colgate University should become a ‘smoke-free’ campus is of particular importance in light of the recent report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which aims to reduce the number of adult smokers in the United States to 10 percent, and the rapidly increasing trend among higher-ed institutions to go ‘smoke-free,'” Flood said. “I first became interested in the issue while working at the World Health Organization Tobacco-Free Initiative while on the Geneva Study Group last spring. It is prudent for both the Student Government Association (SGA) and the University to examine whether we should coalesce with the over 1,200 institutionsthat have enacted campus-wide ‘smoke-free’ policies or whether the prevalence of smoking on campus is such that enacting a University policy would be a superfluous change.”

Sophomore Hunter Hillman, Chair of the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) of the Senate,will create the application and vet the applicants for the Committee describes that the committee will not just consider a ban on smoking.

“Contrary to popular belief, the purpose is not to unilaterally stop smoking on campus,” Hillman said. “Rather, it’s to investigate how we can create a healthier environment for all students on campus, be it through education efforts, designated smoking areas or a general ban on smoking.”

“The purpose of the committee is to explore what “smoke-free” entails for a campus like Colgate, establish what the goals would be, where we are now, evaluate its impact in totality and determineif it is something we wish to pursue further,” Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Scott Brown said.

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA) data from 2013, in actuality, 13.8 percent of Colgate students used tobacco within the last 30 days while respondents estimated that 66.7 percent of Colgate students smoked.

“There is a huge disconnect between what students believe is happening on campus in regards to smoking, versus the reality, which is much less,” Brown said.

President Herbst has not directly received complaints from faculty or students that second-hand smoke is an issue on campus since the beginning of his tenure in 2010. However, the number of smoke-free campuses in the country has greatly increased within the past few years, including President Herbst’s previous institution, Miami University of Ohio, which went smoke-free during his term there.

Perhaps most importantly for the administration, the initiative also fits within the larger wellness program under the Shaw Wellness Institute.

“Smoking cessation is just one effort within a whole set of initiatives to allow people to be healthier on campus,” President Herbst said. “We care about the wellbeing of our faculty and students and want them to be as healthy as possible. Additionally, as an institution we want to minimize healthcare costs.”

In this vein, Human Resources has recently implemented many beneficial programs to promote wellness among employees.

“To show our continued commitment to our employees’ wellness and preventive healthcare, we added an incentive component to the CU Well program effective January 1, 2014,” Director of Benefits and Associate Director of

Human Resources Amy Ryan said.

“This program provides eligible employees the opportunity to receive a $250 cash incentive through participation in the CU Well program,” Ryan said.

“To earn incentive points, employees must complete a Member Health Assessment and a biometric screening, which will earn you 100 points, with the remainder of points earned by additional activities, which include preventive care screenings, online activities and wellness activities,” Ryan said. “Employees who earn 200 points will receive a taxable cash incentive of $250 in their December 2014 paycheck.”

Other wellness initiatives on campus include Focus on Fitness exercise programs through the Trudy Fitness center, free access to a dietician and wellness informational sessions.

Dean Brown echoed the multi-purpose nature of the “Smoke-Free” committee.

“This was initiated by a student, brought forth by the SGA, and underscores how seriously we take student initiative,” Brown said. “Also, as a campus committed to wellness, and with so much progress on many fronts, this is a general wellness issue.”

Applications for the committee have yet to be distributed, but the committee will consist of a broad coalition of students, faculty and administrators.

“We want people to explore these issues in depth from a variety of perspectives,” President Herbst said.

“Once the application process begins, I would encourage anyone with an opinion on the subject to apply-this committee will make very important decisions and we want to make sure that all voices are heard,” Hillman said.

After vetting the candidates, the Student Affairs Committee will recommend a select few student candidates who will then be interviewed by senior members in the SGA.