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University considering complete ban on tobacco use on campus

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The university is currently considering banning smoking on all parts of the University at Albany campus, a proposal controversial among students.

The initiative is being propelled by the Tobacco-Free Steering Committee co-chaired by Dr. Estela Rivero, assistant vice president for student affairs; and Dr. Dolores Cimini, director of the center for behavioral health promotion and applied research.

Smoking legal materials such as tobacco and vapes is currently permitted outdoors as long as it is at least 10 feet away from building entrances and open windows, and 30 feet away from exterior ventilation intakes.

UAlbany spokesman Jordan Carleo-Evangelist said last week that the university expects to have news on the policy soon.

“The university has reached out to many stakeholders during senior leadership’s review of the campus tobacco-use policy,” said Carleo-Evangelist. “The goal of this process is to arrive at a policy that best serves the entire UAlbany community.”

Cimini and Rivero did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research oversees the student peer mentorship group Middle Earth, which lobbied last year against plans for Damien’s to serve alcohol.

Middle Earth president Nicole Bulanchuk said the group fully supports the smoke-free initiative.

“Middle Earth is always willing to help any campus efforts that support and promote student health and wellness since this is one of our priorities,” said Bulanchuk.

While the university discusses the possible policy change, students hold varying opinions on the matter.

Olivia Galasso, a freshman studying biology, said the negative health effects of secondhand smoke made a total smoking ban desirable.

“While I believe people should be able to make their own decisions about their body and health, I think a no-smoking policy would be a positive action,” said Galesso.

Freshman art major Emily Vogt’s parents both smoked growing up. She said her experience leads her to valuing student’s freedom to breathe clean air.“People would be upset, but I believe it’s for the better of the community,” said Vogt.

Others strongly disagree with the proposed ban, such as English major Ryan Szpicek.

“Smoking is going to happen anyway. It’s going to be ridiculous and stupidly hard to enforce the policy,” Szpicek said. “Plus students will go off-campus for it if they must, which could spring a whole lot of bad for no good reason.”

It is unknown at this time if the policy will be enacted or what exactly it will entail.

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