SUNY Cortland campus building in sunlight
Tobacco-Free SUNY

Tobacco-Free SUNY

SUNY supports tobacco-free campuses and continues its advocacy with the legislature to pass legislation aimed at assisting SUNY to go completely tobacco free. SUNY supports the Governor, the New York State Commissioner of Health and other policy makers in limiting tobacco use and especially to curb tobacco use before it even starts.

The SUNY Strategic Plan outlined goals for SUNY and a Healthier New York: The health of New Yorkers is essential to the state's economic success and few organizations, public or private, can address New York's health care challenges as powerfully as SUNY. SUNY is ready to work towards a healthier generation and, given the statistics, it is important to pass tobacco-free policies to mitigate the exposure to tobacco in the college environment. According to the American Cancer Society, the rate of smoking in the 18- 24 age group is 14.9% (2014) which is twice the 7.3% rate found among New York High School students, suggesting a significant number of youth are initiating cigarette use while attending New York’s colleges.

SUNY wants to be an agent for change in mitigating the uptake of tobacco and assisting in the prevention of thousands of tobacco related deaths. As a system of education, SUNY takes very seriously its role to educate all those who attend or visit campuses. In addition to the serious health consequences, there are environmental and social justice issues with tobacco use and production that compound the urgency to move towards tobacco-free communities.

Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States and in NYS. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nationally, 5.6 million children alive today will die early due to smoking.  In New York State, over 28,000 adults die from smoking annually.  In excess of $10 billion is spent in NYS on tobacco-related health care and New York State suffers in excess of $6 billion in productivity losses due to smoking. According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights cigarette butts are the most common source of discarded waste on the planet, accounting for 1.69B pounds of toxic trash. Smokeless tobacco spit is considered a biohazard and contains at least 24 cacogenic chemicals. Given the environmental, health and social justice issues related to tobacco use it is no wonder that as of October 2016, over 1,400 institutions of higher education adopted tobacco-free policies around the nation.

SUNY continues to assist campuses in moving toward the tobacco-free goal in the absence of legislation. As the system awaits the passage of the legislation, there is much to be accomplished. SUNY remains committed to a Healthier NY and a tobacco-free SUNY and encourages an open dialogue and continued movement towards tobacco-free environments.

Learn more about Tobacco-free SUNY


Power of SUNY - Strategic Plan