Student groups are mobilizing to advocate to the administration and the student body to implement a campus-wide smoking ban.
The effort, spearheaded by the Pre-Medical Association and Colleges Against Cancer, has also received the backing of campus health services.
The Pre-Medical Association, the largest student group on campus, has formed a committee, The Tobacco Cessation and Regulation Committee, that raises awareness of the health effects of secondhand smoking and promotes the implementation of a smoking ban on campus.
Isaac Michaels, a senior double-majoring in anthropology and mathematics, is one of the directors of the committee.
“We’re going to raise awareness about the health effects of tobacco smoke, and we hope to bring students together to advocate for a smoking ban on campus,” Michaels said. “Under the policies currently in place, Binghamton University students are denied the option of living and working in a smoke-free environment. We want to create opportunities for students to avoid exposure to carcinogenic secondhand smoke.”
John Zade, founding president of the Pre-Medical Association and a junior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said he was compelled to take up the issue after learning of the detrimental health effects of second and third-hand smoke from his father, who wrote a book about quitting smoking.
“Most people see secondhand smoke as an annoyance; they don’t see it as a detriment to one’s health,” Zade said. “The student body needs to be aware of this concern and that our campus is trying to push for this movement.”
A Pipe Dream survey released Feb. 1 found that about 69 percent of the BU students polled were at least somewhat irritated by cigarette smoke. That same survey found that about 67 percent of those polled believed secondhand smoke was at least somewhat hazardous to their personal health.
The survey also found that about 61 percent of respondents would support a smoking ban, while about 25 percent would oppose a ban.
The Pre-Medical Association is working to build a coalition that will include Colleges Against Cancer and Tobacco Awareness and Discussion to advocate for the implementation of a smoking ban, including meeting with administrators and the Student Association.
Melissa Frascella, president of Colleges Against Cancer and a senior majoring in health journalism, said her group planned to partner with the Pre-Med Association until the smoking ban becomes a reality.
“Meetings [with the administration] have been set up to discuss the next steps to put this ban in full force,” Frascella said. “The American Cancer Society located in Johnson City as well as the Broome County Department of Health have collaborated with some BU officials and have met in an attempt to ban smoking on campus.”
Bridget McCane Saunders, associate director for health education at the Decker Student Health Services Center, said some student groups have met with her regarding implementing a smoking ban.
“In the most recent months I have met with … Pre-Med Association and have had productive discussions regarding increasing the campus’ awareness and how the group might go about enlisting other groups and campus administration in smoke-free campus discussions,” Saunders said.
Saunders said it is important that the students work together with the school’s health services to raise awareness about smoking,
“When students are included in decision-making and program development, they are more likely to participate and/or believe in the process. I am a firm believer in students leading the cause in tobacco education and prevention and being included in discussions related to changing tobacco policies,” Saunders said.
Saunders also said she would support the implementation of a smoking ban for health reasons.
Michaels said the fact that the number of colleges and universities transitioning into smoke-free campuses has been increasing over the last five years has inspired him to get involved in the issue.
“Nearly 500 U.S. colleges and universities are now smoke-free, including the University at Buffalo and most recently the entire CUNY system,” he said. “We think this represents a perfect opportunity for Binghamton University to become smoke-free as well.”
But some students are skeptical of whether a smoking ban can be implemented on campus.
“It’s a good idea … but it’s not going to work,” said Brandon Jones, a junior double-majoring in human development and political science. “How will they stop people from smoking?”
“I see all the negative effects of smoking,” said Kevin Gleeson, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law. He added, however, that he believed that people who wished to smoke on campus should be able to do so.