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Findings for a Tobacco-Free Campus

Vision & Core Values

An employer and an institution of higher education, … is committed to providing a safe working, living, and educational environment.

A. Health Risks

  1. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and worldwide, and a profound agent of deadly diseases. There are more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S. caused by cigarette use and exposure to secondhand smoke. More than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking.
  2. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, a Class A carcinogen. Short-term exposure increases health risks, especially children, the elderly, those with a compromised immune system, or chronic heart and pulmonary disease.
  3. Clear, well defined steps to reduce the health risks inflicted by exposure to secondhand smoke are warranted for the safety of the community.
  4. Communities with stricter tobacco control policies have lower smoking rates.
  5. Businesses experience substantially higher healthcare costs and lower productivity rates as a result of tobacco dependence among employees; an estimated $5,816 per employee per year.

B. Environmental Stewardship

  1. Annual tobacco production is responsible for felling 20–50 million trees globally, the use of 27 million pounds of pesticides in the U.S., and nicotine toxicity among farm workers.
  2. Cigarette butts are the number one most littered item in the world. They are not biodegradable, and are toxic to wildlife and therapy animals.
  3. Use of all tobacco products is inconsistent with and contrary to efforts for a sustainable planet.

Tobacco Use

  1. Individuals who start using nicotine before age 25, when the brain is fully developed. are at the highest risk for lifelong dependency.
  2. Students perceive that among the typical students at their school, 71% are current cigarette smokers, and 85% are current e-cig users. Actual 30-day use by students is 6% for cigarettes, 15% for e-cigs. (2019)
  3. As more and more municipalities and workplaces adopt tobacco-free policies, a tobacco-free campus will more realistically prepare students for their post-campus experiences.

Community Norms

  1. Tobacco-free public spaces establish a culture of respect for others and the environment, free of the impacts of tobacco use by others.
  2. Full and equal access to public spaces, guaranteed by the ADA and campus policy, is not afforded to those impacted by exposure to tobacco smoke or vapor when tobacco-free properties have not been established.

Social Justice

  1. The tobacco industry targets marginalized populations in the U.S. and emerging nations, resulting of higher initiation of tobacco use among low SES populations, people of color, LGBTQ populations, and those with mental illness. Tobacco use rates for these groups are significantly higher than for the general population.
  2. Among Tompkins County adults with household income under $25K, 35% are current smokers. Among the general adult population, 17% are current smokers. (2016)
  3. Marginalized populations generally have limited and unequal access to nicotine addiction treatment, and historically, tobacco dependence treatment is erroneously waived for people with mental illness, especially those in residential or institutional settings.


  1. In Tompkins County, 60% of adults favor a policy that prohibits smoking on the grounds of all workplaces. (2015)
  2. Smoke-free or tobacco-free outdoors policies have been established by the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, Cayuga Medical Center, CFCU Credit Union, City Centre Ithaca, Yale University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Aiding in Tobacco Cessation

  1. The NYS Department of Health recognizes tobacco use as an addiction to nicotine, and urges health care providers to treat individuals who use tobacco in a manner consistent with treatment for an addictive substance.
  2. Tobacco dependence is a chronic health condition that often requires repeated intervention and multiple attempts to quit.
  3. Tobacco users should be fully respected and accepted, and should be given ready access to evidence based treatment for tobacco use and dependence.

Enforcement of a Tobacco-Free Campus Policy

  1. In the SUNY Cortland Tobacco-Free Policy, paragraph one under “Compliance” states as follows:
    “This policy is driven by respect for others and the environment and relies on the thoughtfulness, consideration, and cooperation of tobacco users and non-users for its success. Enforcement of this policy will depend on the cooperation of all members of the SUNY Cortland campus community, both to comply and encourage others to do so. It is the responsibility of all members in the College community to observe this tobacco policy.”