Skidmore Prepares for Smoke-Free Campus
In a recent college-wide email by the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, Cerri Banks, new updates were provided regarding the campus’ aim to go smoke-free and tobacco-free by Jan. 1, 2019. The policy will apply to all students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus, and a failure to comply may result in a penalty.
Skidmore’s current smoking policy, instituted in November of 2013, states that smoking is prohibited inside all college facilities and college-owned vehicles, as well as within 25 feet of all buildings on campus. There are, however, a number of designated smoking areas available on campus that are marked by signs. The Institutional Policy and Planning Committee (IPPC) has been working closely with the Glens Falls Hospital Health Promotion Center to increase and improve the visibility of these signs around campus, in order to better communicate the upcoming policy change and ease the transition for members of the Skidmore community.
In her email, Dean Banks stressed that the rationale behind the new policy was to encourage a healthy working and learning environment by limiting the exposure of the college community to secondhand smoke and reducing the risk of fires on campus. Citing an increased focus on public health as a major reason for the policy change, Dean Banks also mentioned that the college will be organizing special events in the month of October to support the upcoming policy launch.
The policy was formally announced last semester following an extensive, yearlong review of the current smoking policy by the IPPC in collaboration with the Safety in the Workplace Committee. The review was based on views expressed by the campus community, which were gathered through community meetings and two surveys that had approximately 1,600 participants in total. The implementation committee also examined smoking policies at the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the country before coming to their decision.
The policy was also subject to a vote by the Student Government Association (SGA) and quickly became a subject of contention among students on campus. While some students commended the college’s priority towards maintaining community health, others have since criticized the extreme nature of the policy. The last several years have seen a significant increase in smoking on campus, and these new crackdowns are certain to garner further backlash in the months leading up to its implementation.