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SUNY Cortland and Onondaga County Health Department Partner to Control Tobacco Use

11/06/2009 

In an effort to reduce smoking among college students, SUNY Cortland will partner with the Onondaga County Health Department (OCHD) through the Colleges for Change (C4C) program aimed at limiting where and how tobacco products are used, promoted, advertised and sold. The program also advances local action to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

Administered by the OCHD and funded by New York State, C4C was developed in response to national data showing that 18-25 year olds have the highest rates of tobacco use. Since the 1998 passage of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the largest tobacco companies and the attorneys general of 46 states, the 18-25 year-olds also have formed the youngest legal market for the tobacco industry to target.

"The program will work to establish relationships with members of the Cortland community," said Cathy Smith, a health educator at SUNY Cortland. "First we will establish a Tobacco Advisory Committee and a Student Advocacy Group. Our first efforts will be to evaluate the campus community to better understand student, employee, administrator and community member attitudes regarding the adoption of tobacco-free policies," said Smith. "We will talk to student organizations, off-campus housing, community businesses, and the College campus."

"Moving toward a smoke-free campus will allow SUNY Cortland to be compliant with the American College Health Association's most recent guideline regarding tobacco use which recommends that college campuses be 'diligent in their efforts to achieve a 100 percent indoor and outdoor campus-wide tobacco-free environment,'" added Devin Coppola, M.D., the SUNY Cortland campus physician.

Commissioner of Health for Onondaga County Cynthia Morrow, M.D., views the SUNY Cortland and OCHD cooperative effort as an exciting opportunity for strengthening tobacco control on the campus and in the community.

"The partnership is an excellent way to actively engage college-age adults to address young adult tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke," she noted.

C4C directs numerous evidenced-based initiatives focusing on changing social norms around tobacco use in the college campus environment. These include:

  • "No Thanks, Big Tobacco": Tobacco companies have a long history of sponsoring events, both on and off campuses, and contributing to the arts and not-for-profit organizations. C4C will work to end tobacco company sponsorship both on and around the SUNY Cortland campus.
  • Smoke-Free Housing: While New York law protects indoor workers from secondhand smoke, individuals' rights to breathe clean air in their residences have been vastly overlooked. C4C will work to encourage off-campus apartment complexes and other multi-unit housing properties where students reside to adopt written smoke free policies.
  • Tobacco-Free/Smoke-Free Outdoors: Communities across the country and New York State are implementing ordinances and laws prohibiting smoking in outdoor venues in the interest of limiting exposure to secondhand smoke and lessening the appeal of smoking. C4C will focus on changing policies or passing ordinances related to the use of tobacco products on the college campus and outdoor areas in the Cortland community.
  • Point of Sale: C4C will encourage the college campus to adopt a written policy banning the sale of tobacco products on campus.

For more information, contact Cathy Smith at (607) 753-2066 or Katelyn M. Upcraft, public health educator, Tobacco Control Program, at (315) 435-3280.