Like hundreds of other universities across the country, CUNY is poised to become almost entirely smoke-free. The Board of Trustees will meet today to vote on a plan to prohibit smoking from all 23 CUNY campuses; currently smoking is only banned inside buildings and CUNY vehicles. In addition, all tobacco industry promotions, advertising, marketing, and distribution would be prohibited on campus properties, and tobacco industry sponsorship of athletic events and athletes would be prohibited. Of course, some students call this discrimination.
"I think it's pretty discriminatory," CUNY student Rob Assini tells NY1. "Smoking is a choice that's made by adults. And if people choose to do so, especially in a highly stressful environment such as a college environment, and people feel the need to blow off steam by smoking, then I feel they should be free to." But administrators at CUNY, the nation's largest urban public university, say research shows secondhand smoke—even outdoors—has harmful biological consequences. They estimate that as many as 85 percent of CUNY's student body, faculty, and staff are non-smokers, and contend that most of the smoking minority want to quit.
"Expanding the University's policy would therefore achieve a dual effect: motivating current smokers to cease smoking, and safeguarding CUNY students, faculty, and staff—more than 85 percent of whom are nonsmokers—from the toxic effects of secondhand smoke," says CUNY's Tobacco Policy Advisory Committee. Regardless of today's vote, the College of Staten Island is already phasing in a ban, and expects the entire campus to be smoke-free next year. The prohibition comes as the NYC Health Department is pushing to ban smoking from parks, beaches, boardwalks, and, eventually, within 500 yards of Mayor Bloomberg.