Smoking task force forwards recommendations to vice president

The smoking task force that was created last semester recently forwarded its recommendations to Ken Levison, vice president for administration and finance, who will bring those recommendations to the College Cabinet for review.

"[The task force] was made up of a cross-section of staff, faculty, students, smokers and non-smokers," said Gloria Lopez, who chairs the task force and is the associate director of human resources, as well as the director of affirmative action at the college. "We all worked together compiling research, reading articles and taking field trips, going to other institutions to see what they were doing."

Lopez said that the charge of the task force was to "review our own smoking policy and compare to other SUNY policies, look at best practices and make recommendations if necessary."

The current smoking policy prohibits smoking in any indoor environment owned or leased by the college and instructs that "individuals who wish to smoke out of doors must do so away from doorways and air intakes into buildings so that the secondhand smoke does not enter buildings."

The recommendation that smokers stay at least 25 feet away from building entrances has drawn controversy since many ashtrays are located within the 25-foot radius, some directly next to doorways.

"Our current policy was written two years ago, it was time to review it," Lopez said.

The task force compiled data from area institutions and noted any differences in policy. "What we found," Lopez said, "is that our policy is really very good … some other institutions had more stuff added on top of the policies, like Web pages and stuff to educate people, but we didn't find any policy that shouted out being the best one."

Some of the options the task force that were considered included expanding the 25-foot radius to 50 feet or even a blanket, absolute no-smoking policy. Lopez said she could not disclose the final recommendations of the task force until the Cabinet reviews them.

"Some of the policies we came across were really very simple, something like, 'We follow the Clean Air Act,' for example," Lopez said. "We were happy to conclude that our policy, in comparison, was really a very good one. It is clearly defined and it is something that educates people. That's a good policy."

The Cabinet has not chosen a date to review the recommendations as of yet.