Following Christmas break, students and faculty of Skidmore College will return to a completely smoke and tobacco-free campus. The liberal arts college announced on December 17 that, effective January 1, 2019, smoking, vaping and any use of tobacco, including e-cigarettes, would be prohibited on the college’s property, even in the campus’s outdoor areas, including the 150-acre North Woods. “We included e-cigarettes and vaping devices in the policy, because nicotine in any form is highly addictive,” says Cerri Banks, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs. “The smoke-free and tobacco-free policy promotes a culture of wellness and provides the community with a healthy, respectful working and learning environment.”
Skidmore’s announcement came out the same day that a federally funded study was released stating that the number of students who said they had smoked e-cigarettes or vaped had doubled since last year. (The findings are based on responses from approximately 45,000 teens in middle schools and high schools across the county.) Although it found that most teen drug use was down, the jump in vaping marks the largest single-year increase of a substance being abused in the study’s 44-year history (it also found an uptick in vaping marijuana). Back in September, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a press release calling the spike in e-cigarette use among minors an “epidemic.” The FDA fears increased vaping will lead to a rise in cigarette use, which for years has slowly been on the decline.
In order to create an entirely smoke-free campus, Skidmore partnered with an initiative at Glens Falls Hospital called Living Tobacco-Free. This program, which works to reduce tobacco use by educating and collaborating with community leaders and local organizations, provided the college with resources and information about how to successfully plan and implement its own zero-smoking policy. “We’re extremely impressed with how dedicated, thoughtful and thorough Skidmore has been through this whole process and are thankful to be a part of this initiative,” says Brandi Bishop, Program Coordinator for Living Tobacco-Free.
Skidmore joins at least 2000 other colleges that have implemented policies prohibiting smoking. Locally, Siena College, Union College and the College of Saint Rose all have smoke-free campuses, and University at Albany announced back in April that, like Skidmore, it would prohibit all smoking beginning in the new year.
At Skidmore, Banks emphasized that there are a number of resources to help students with the transition. “Our health and wellness staff are trained to advise those who are interested in breaking the dependency on nicotine products,” says Banks. In celebration of the new, smoke- and tobacco-free Skidmore, the college is planning a special launch event on January 28, from 11am to 3pm, on the second floor of Case Center.