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Kicking It 2010: We Share the Air

DATE: 11-05-2009

Thursday, November 19, is this year's Great American Smokeout, an initiative of the American Cancer Society.

New Year's resolutions aren't just for people anymore. Colleges can make them, too.

Starting January 1, 2010, Cayuga Community College has resolved to become a tobacco-free airspace. As people enter and exit the campus buildings in Auburn and Fulton, "We Share the Air" decals will serve as a reminder of "Tobacco-Free Cayuga, Indoors and Out."

Last year, the College Cabinet the president's volunteer advisory group representing students, faculty and staff from both campuses agreed that Cayuga should go tobacco-free for the health of all in the College community. The Board of Trustees endorsed the decision.

New York State law already prohibits smoking in public buildings. Cayuga County, the sponsor of Cayuga Community College, enforces a 35-foot tobacco-free zone outside its buildings. With this new policy, the College is taking clean air all the way to the campus boundaries.

While the College administration respects the personal freedom of all adults attending, visiting or working at Cayuga, "public smoking harms the public," says Daniel Larson, president of the College. "A smoker may assume his or her own risk, but second-hand smoke hurts other people. We all share a right to clean air."

According to a 2006 United States Surgeon General's report, there is no safe level of second-hand smoke. A smoke-free environment is the only protection against exposure.

"Creating tobacco-free campuses means bringing about a culture change, not playing cop," notes Larson. Enforcement, he explains, will be a matter of respectful persuasion and gentle peer pressure.

Cayuga's Health Services office is ready to help. The College's staff nurses are trained by the American Cancer Society to offer quit-smoking counseling and classes. They can provide referrals to local programs and the New York State Smokers Quitline for free coaching and starter kits of nicotine patches, gum or lozenges. Suzanne Wilson, RN, coordinator of Health Services, notes that students have been using the Quitline with good results.

We've learned to crush out the butts before entering a building. Taking it to the next level means not lighting up on the way out the exit door.

It's only fair. Because we all share the air.