Skidmore College, Officially Smoke-Free
The spring semester is officially in full swing, and a noticeable absence hangs in the icy February air — and not just because of the cold. As of Jan. 1, smoking and tobacco use, as well as the use of all e-cigarettes and vaping devices, have become prohibited throughout Skidmore College property, including outdoor areas and on-campus residential properties. However, the college now has the responsibility of educating the Skidmore community and providing resources for users who wish to quit.
In a campus-wide email sent before the start of the semester, Cerri Banks, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, reminded students of the new initiative. She emphasized that the policy is to provide the Skidmore community with a healthy working and learning environment by limiting the potential exposure of students, faculty, staff and visitors to the effects of secondhand smoke.
Alongside these reasons, the policy also comes as a result of recent data that has shown a sharp increase in e-cigarette use among youth, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warning about dangers associated with nicotine addiction and e-cigarette use.
To aide in providing resources for smokers and vape-users, the College Wellness Center has partnered with the Health Promotion Center of Glens Falls Hospital to prepare nicotine patches for assisting with addiction.
“We included e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the policy because nicotine in any form is highly addictive,” Banks said. “Our health and wellness staff are trained to advise those who are interested in breaking the dependency on nicotine products.”
On Jan. 27th, the college hosted a campus-wide smoke-free launch event in Case Center with live music, refreshments, goodie bags, prizes, and giveaways. At the event, Banks addressed attendees and reminded them of the culture of health and wellness that the college is currently committed towards.
According to Jennifer McDonald, Director of Health Promotion at Skidmore, 38.2% of students have used or currently use tobacco or electronic nicotine devices. McDonald also added, pulling from a survey about tobacco usage in the college from 2017, that 32.95% of Skidmore student smokers are currently trying to quit and an additional 23% would like to quit within the next six months.
Senior Carol Uphus ’19 spoke to Skidmore News concerning her thoughts regarding the new policy. Although Uphus identifies as an on-and-off smoker, she said that the policy does not deter her from taking up the habit again.
“The reality is that those who are addicted to cigarettes and nicotine aren’t influenced by policies such as Skidmore’s new smoking policy. Many people on campus recognize that the smoking policy and its advertisement is about just that: optics,” she said.
She also added that “if Skidmore is about ‘promoting a culture of wellness and providing the community with a healthy learning environment’ then there should be a focus” students who are struggling with a drug addiction, in addition to smoking addictions.
Skidmore instituted a similar smoking policy in 2012 but later revised it in 2014. Whether this policy will be truly effective remains yet to be seen. Still, this commitment to promoting a smoke-free lifestyle seems to be one that the college is not taking lightly.