PAUL SMITHS — As of Aug. 1, 2014, Paul Smith’s College will go tobacco-free.
“Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in the United States,” college President John W. Mills said in a statement.
He pointed to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that indicate more than 443,000 people a year die from tobacco use in the United States. And 8 million-plus suffer from tobacco-related illnesses.
Tobacco-free, the statement said, is defined as no use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco or other tobacco products on campus or other college properties, including the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center.
To ease the transition, the college is looking into how to make more resources available for people who would like to stop using tobacco products, in addition to those already offered on campus.
Paul Smith’s will be joining 825 other campuses that have banned smoking — a figure that includes more than 600 that have gone completely tobacco-free or have announced plans to do so, according to the group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.
Along with health reasons, Mills cited several other factors in the decision to go smoke-free.
“Part of our mission as an institution of higher learning is to not only foster learning on campus, but also to give our students, staff and faculty the tools to make the world a more sustainable place — economically, socially and environmentally,” he said. “Tobacco use doesn’t fit with this commitment. It is bad for the environment and costs tens of billions of dollars a year with regards to health care and lost productivity.”
A recent National College Health Assessment at Paul Smith’s indicated 17 percent of the students there had smoked cigarettes over the past 30 days.
It did not include other forms of tobacco, however.
The college, said Director of Communications Kenneth Aaron, had conducted its own online survey of faculty, staff and students a few months earlier, asking, “Do you use tobacco in any form on campus property?”