PAUL SMITHS - Paul Smith's College will become tobacco-free as of Aug. 1, 2014.
"Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the United States," college President John Mills said in a statement to the campus community, citing statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that found more than 443,000 people a year die from tobacco use and more than 8 million more suffer from tobacco-related illnesses.
Once the rule takes effect, no use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco or other tobacco products will be allowed on campus or the college's other properties, including the nearby VIC.
To ease the transition, the college is exploring how to make more resources available for those who would like to stop using tobacco products, in addition to those already offered on campus.
Paul Smith's is joining 825 other campuses across the country that have banned smoking - a figure that includes more than 600 that have gone tobacco-free or have announced plans to do so, according to the group Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.
In addition to health reasons, Mills cited several other factors in the decision.
"Part of our mission as an institution of higher learning is to not only foster learning on campus, but also to give our students, staff and faculty the tools to make the world a more sustainable place - economically, socially and environmentally," he said. "Tobacco use doesn't fit with this commitment. It is bad for the environment and costs tens of billions of dollars a year with regards to health care and lost productivity."
A group of faculty, staff and students are working on the details of the plan, which will roll out in phases. As of now, tobacco use will remain permitted in areas where it is currently allowed. At some point, areas where tobacco use is permitted will be further restricted before being phased out completely.
Christa VanCour, senior public health educator for the Clinton County Health Department's Adirondack Tobacco Free Network, said in a press release that the college's action is especially significant considering that Franklin County has the highest percentage of adults who smoke in New York state.
"Paul Smith's College is taking an important step in protecting the health of their campus community," she said. "They should be applauded for their hard work and efforts, as they strive to join dozens of colleges across New York State to become a tobacco-free campus."