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Hudson Valley Community College to be Tobacco and Smoke-Free in Fall 2013

MEDIA CONTACT: Dennis Kennedy (518) 629-8071;
FOR RELEASE: Friday, April 12, 2013

Hudson Valley Community College will be completely tobacco and smoke-free beginning in fall 2013. The college’s Board of Trustees approved a policy at its March meeting prohibiting tobacco use on college-controlled property and aligning the college with SUNY’s vision for a tobacco-free system.

Hudson Valley’s policy bans chewing tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, other tobacco products or smoking devices such as pipes and vaporizers on the college premises. The college joins a growing number of higher education institutions going tobacco-free.

According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, there are 1,159 completely smoke-free campuses in the country. This number has grown from 530 campuses at the same time two years earlier (July 2011) and 420 campuses three years ago (July 2010).

The SUNY Board of Trustees passed a resolution in June 2012 to support a “Tobacco-Free SUNY,” prohibiting the use of tobacco on grounds and facilities controlled by the system. When implemented, SUNY would be the largest public university system in the country to adopt a comprehensive tobacco-free policy. Three other states, Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma, have enacted new laws to make their respective states’ campuses entirely tobacco- and smoke-free. The City University of New York began implementing a tobacco-free policy on all 23 of its campuses in September 2012.

According to the American Cancer Society, in New York State, the rate of smoking among 18-24 year olds (21.6 percent) is 58 percent higher than high school age students (12.5 percent). Smoking is both harmful to the individual smoker and also endangers non-smokers through secondhand smoke exposure. In addition to the health benefits, college tobacco-free environments can improve productivity, increase class attendance, lower maintenance and cleaning costs, reduce fire risk, lower insurance rates and teach respect for others and the campus environment.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Class A carcinogen, the same as asbestos, and there is no level of exposure considered to be safe. Recent evidence suggests that short-term exposure to secondhand smoke, even outdoors, puts people at risk, especially those with pre-existing cardiac and pulmonary illness.

“A tobacco-free Hudson Valley promotes a healthy and safe environment for our community. The well-being of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is something we take very seriously, and we’re proud to be among the rising number of colleges nationwide to implement a tobacco-free environment,” said Drew Matonak, president of Hudson Valley Community College.

“As SUNY continues to work toward its 2014 goal of being completely tobacco-free across its 64 campuses, Hudson Valley Community College is certainly ahead of the curve,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to President Drew Matonak and the entire Hudson Valley community on this extraordinary achievement.”

The American College Health Association acknowledges and supports the findings of the U.S. Surgeon General that tobacco use in any form, active and/or passive, is a significant health hazard. Efforts to promote tobacco-free environments have led to substantial reductions in the number of people who smoke, the amount of tobacco products consumed, and the number of people exposed to environmental tobacco hazards.

“A tobacco-free college campus is an important step in building a strong, healthy college community. I commend Hudson Valley on providing a tobacco-free environment for its students, faculty and staff. Research shows that if youth do not begin smoking by the age of 26, it is very unlikely that they ever will. A tobacco-free campus policy changes the social norm around tobacco use, eliminates exposure to secondhand smoke and helps to build a healthy, tobacco-free generation,” said Judy Rightmyer, director of the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition.

Hudson Valley’s tobacco-free committee worked over several months to plan for implementation and inform a variety of campus constituent groups of the policy change. A broad campus communications strategy and education resources for the campus community will roll out during the spring and summer.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in four schools: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of 13,250 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has more than 75,000 alumni.