After Plattsburgh State announced in late October that the college would be instituting a tobacco-free policy next fall, the campus community has been actively promoting the coming change, as well as the products and services offered for those who wish to quit.
The PSUC chapter of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) is heavily invested in the new initiative, including their recent awareness campaign, The Great American Smokeout, which took place Nov. 20.
Former CAC President Kelsey Darby said despite a smaller turnout than they were hoping for, the event was still tremendously successful.
“I wouldn’t say the event was a failure,” Darby said. “The people that were there wanted to be there, and we were able to get the word out to those people, at least, about SUNY Plattsburgh going tobacco free, and they were able to get their questions answered.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman and Kimberly Cummins, who works with the adolescent-oriented anti-tobacco organization Reality Check, accompanied Darby on the panel to provide information for the attendees.
The event was focused on letting people know of the cessation services and products that were available, but Darby noted that the biggest concern was what services would be provided for non-students.
“That’s one of Bryan Hartman’s concerns, is that those things are only available to students. They’re not available to faculty and staff,” she said. “That was one of the things that Bryan said they need to figure out.”
However, the goal is not to get people to quit, Hartman told Cardinal Points in October. While he indicated the school would fully support those who decided to quit, he said there would be no pressure to change someone’s lifestyle — only to change where that behavior took place.
Reducing tobacco consumption is still a large part of CAC’s mission, however, and providing relaxing alternatives could be the solution, Darby said.
“One of the things that I found just from talking to people is that college students start smoking because it helps them deal with the stress,” she said. “If we can give them ways to manage their stress aside from smoking, it might also help cut down on the number of students that start smoking to begin with.”
While Darby said CAC’s involvement in the college’s campaign is still relatively undefined, she said the organization’s main contribution is spreading awareness.
“Right now, what CAC is doing is we’re just trying to get the word out so people know,” Darby said. “Once it goes into effect, we’ll probably still be promoting and letting people know about it, but also potentially being those people on campus that act as a resource.”
To better organize the rollout of PSUC’s tobacco-free policy, Assistant Professor of Public Relations Colleen Lemza and one of her classes have been tasked with creating an awareness campaign for the college’s new endeavor.
Lisa Douglas, one of two co-campaign leaders in the class, said her current class, Public Relation Management, has been working on the preliminary organization of the campaign.
She will also be in next semester’s Public Relations Campaigns course, which will be implementing the awareness campaign in preparation for the policy’s rollout beginning June 1, 2015.
“Rhema Lewis and Cori Jackson, they have given us a huge opportunity,” Douglas said.
In preparation, the class has been researching the efforts of other SUNY campuses in what has and hasn’t worked for their own tobacco- or smoke-free plans, pulling a variety of ideas to create their own unique plan.
While Douglas said specifics of the campaign have not been finalized yet due to uncertainty regarding some aspects of the final policy, she said the primary objective is to have at least 70 percent of the campus community informed of the policy by May 31, 2015.
Ultimately, however, the goal is all about promoting a healthier atmosphere.
“Our No. 1 goal is to have a healthy, tobacco-free SUNY campus,” Douglas said.
Email Zachary Ripple at firstname.lastname@example.org.