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QC Bans Smoking On Campus

If you're going to light up a cigarette at Queens College these days, you'll have to stroll out to Kissena Boulevard and smoke with the traffic.

The college has joined its CUNY siblings by banning all tobacco products on campus, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The ban, which went into effect New Year's Day, arrives earlier than the tobacco-free policy which will soon govern all CUNYs in the fall of 2012.

Even smoking outside is now prohibited on all of Queens College's 77-acres, a policy championed by the university as another step toward a more environmentally-conscious campus.

Several other CUNYs are located in denser urban areas, where a quick elevator ride down to the lobby and a short walk outside are all that is needed to light up. If you crave your nicotine in the center of Queens College's expansive campus, better tie your shoelaces tight and start walking.

According to Katharine Cobb, vice president for finance and administration and head of the Queens College's sustainability committee, there was a reason the school decided to become tobacco-free before other CUNYs.

"We wanted to see the policy implemented earlier because we felt it would be easier educating the student body if we laid the groundwork for implementation in the fall and rolled it out in the spring," Cobb said. "If we implemented it in the fall of 2012, the long summer period could lead to students forgetting about the policy when it began."

Cobb said there are no disciplinary measures for tobacco-users. "Social pressure" will serve as a way to keep people from smoking. Signs will be posted throughout campus, featuring the slogan "Breathe Easy," a creation of Queens College's communications department. She said education efforts in the fall had made students well-aware that this policy would greet them when they return to classes.

Will Sammon, editor-in-chief of the college's student newspaper, The Knight News, does not think enough students will be aware of the ban and it will be difficult to enforce.

"The problem is that there's a lot of campus apathy, it's a commuter school," Sammon said. "People don't know what's going on. It's hard to enforce that sort of ban. So many people are used to smoking."

Audrey Silk, the founder of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoking Harassment is not too happy to hear about Queens College's new policy.

"There's no justification for a ban this expansive," she said. "It's punitive, it's discriminatory. This is just outright punishment of a segment of a society for daring to choose to smoke."

Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012

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