Kingston, NY –
HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley’s TFAC program – Tobacco Free Action Communities in Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan – celebrates Vassar College’s score of A on the Tobacco-Free U: 2015 New York State Dean’s List, making the college one of 85 in the state with either smoke-free or tobacco-free polices in place. This reflects a 28 percent increase in such policies implemented since 2012.
“Vassar College is a shining example of the growing smoke-free and tobacco-free trend among colleges nationwide and statewide,” said Ellen Reinhard, TFAC Director. “Evidence suggests that short-term exposure to secondhand smoke, even outdoors, puts people at increased risk, especially those with pre-existing cardiac and pulmonary illness. The college’s tobacco-free environment reduces secondhand smoke exposure and the start of tobacco use among young people. It also helps smokers on campus who are trying to quit.”
According to the Tobacco-Free U 2015 New York State Dean’s List, forty-two percent of colleges (85) in New York are either smoke-free or tobacco-free, and half of the state’s colleges have implemented or are in the process of establishing either a 100 percent smoke-free or a tobacco-free policy. Further, the report shows that more than two-thirds of campuses with such policies appear to have good to very good compliance.
“College is where we’re supposed to gain lifelong skills, and smoking shouldn’t be one of them,” said Diane Moore, TFAC Reality Check Lead. “I hope New York colleges that didn’t get high marks on the Dean’s List will follow Vassar College’s lead and make their campuses the healthy places they should be.”
The Tobacco-Free U report, published by the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Action Network, assigns letter grades A-D to New York colleges for their campus smoking and tobacco policies. Those colleges actively working toward a smoke/tobacco-free campus receive a grade of I, or Incomplete. In this report tobacco-free means that the use of tobacco in any form is prohibited everywhere on campus. This includes smokeless forms of tobacco and in most cases electronic cigarettes. Smoke-free, in this report, means that smoking tobacco in the form of cigarettes, cigars and pipes is prohibited everywhere on campus.
In the Tobacco-Free U report, other area colleges did not score as high as Vassar College. SUNY Ulster received a B grade, the Culinary Institute of America received a C grade, and Bard College, Marist College, SUNY New Paltz and SUNY Sullivan Community College all received a D grade from the survey. Dutchess Community College received a grade of I, or Incomplete, because the school is actively working to implement a tobacco-free policy for its campus that will take effect in May of 2016.
Data for the Tobacco-Free U: 2015 New York State Dean’s List was gathered from 201 colleges and universities over the course of a year. It shows that the number of colleges that have adopted tobacco-free/smoke-free policies since the mid-2000s has increased 40 fold. As a percentage, private colleges and universities are more than twice as likely to have a D grade as a public campus, and public colleges and universities are more than twice as likely to be preparing to implement such policies compared to the state’s private colleges.
Tobacco-free supporters heralded Vassar College’s policy in celebration of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers nationwide take part in this event, either quitting that day or making a plan to quit. Across New York and the nation today, the Great American Smokeout is being used to support people who want to quit, discourage youth from starting and educate communities about the value of tobacco-free environments where people live, work and play.