FAQ

Why adopt the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy?

What is the point in going tobacco free?
One of Binghamton University’s goals is to be a healthy campus that fosters health/wellness, safety and sustainability, thereby providing a productive environment for all students, faculty, staff, vendors, volunteers and visitors. Tobacco use negatively affects the entire community and runs counter to Binghamton University’s goal.

Is there support for Binghamton University becoming tobacco free?
The SUNY Strategic Plan includes goals for SUNY and a Healthier New York. According to SUNY, “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 compelled to contribute to 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.” 

The State University of New York Chancellor and the Board of Trustees remain committed to a Tobacco Free SUNY. The rationale for this initiative is included in a resolution passed by the Board of Trustees in June 2012. A.7277-B/S.4853-B will enable SUNY to fully implement the objectives of the Chancellor’s Task Force and the Board of Trustees resolution. They continue to work with the legislation to seek its full passage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a national initiative to eliminate tobacco use on college campuses (The National Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative). It is expected that more U.S. universities will work toward becoming tobacco free.

How does adopting the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy clean up the environment?
  • Environmental tobacco exposes bystanders to numerous harmful chemicals.
  • Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world with 1.7 billion pounds of cigarette butts littered worldwide each day.
  • Cigarette butts are a fire hazard, increase University maintenance expenses and can be eaten by dogs, birds and other animals.
  • Filters are non-biodegradable and can take five to 10 years to decompose.
  • Chemicals (e.g. hydrogen-cyanide, arsenic, etc.) in cigarette butts leak into the soil and water.
Are people really at risk?
According to the American Cancer Society, in New York state, the rate of smoking in the 18-24 age group is 14.9 percent (2014) which is twice the 7.3 percent rate found among New York high-school students, suggesting a significant number of youth are initiating cigarette use while attending New York’s colleges. College is a critical time in young adult development during which many lifestyle habits are formed and Binghamton University has an unprecedented opportunity to promote sustained healthy behaviors among students. In 2012, the Surgeon General reported that each day in the U.S., 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette and over 1,000 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers. Nearly 100 percent of adults who smoke daily started smoking when they were 26 years old or younger.

Is there really a health risk if people are allowed to smoke outside?
Yes, there really is a health risk. The Surgeon General has found there is no safe level of second-hand smoke. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, second-hand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals. As Binghamton University strives to become the healthiest university on the globe, it is imperative that we consider the impact of tobacco on the health and well-being of our faculty, staff, students, vendors, volunteers and visitors.

What is and is not permitted?

What does having the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy mean?
The Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy means that no tobacco use will be allowed on any Binghamton University owned, operated or leased property, and the University will not advertise or allow tobacco to be sold on any of its owned, operated or leased property.

What is the definition of “tobacco?”
Tobacco is defined as all tobacco and tobacco-derived products intended for human consumption, including but not limited to, cigarettes, electronic nicotine delivery systems (vaping), juuls, cigars, hookah-smoked products, clove cigarettes, bidis, kreteks, smokeless tobacco and snus. This definition does not include any product that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco use cessation product.

Isn’t it my right to use tobacco? Does Binghamton University have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?
Binghamton University has a responsibility to establish policies that positively affect the health and well-being of all students, faculty, staff, vendors, volunteers and visitors. A Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely establishes where use can and cannot occur. Tobacco is legal for adults to purchase and consume.

Will it be OK to use smokeless tobacco, such as chew?
All forms of tobacco are prohibited. The health risks associated with "chew" as well as other smokeless tobacco products are well documented.

Will the use of hookahs and other devices for smoking tobacco be permitted?
Using hookahs or any other device to smoke tobacco is prohibited. Additionally, using hookahs to smoke non-tobacco products is also prohibited.

Are electronic-cigarettes (e-cigs) permitted?
E-cigs and all other electronic nicotine delivery devices are not permitted. There is insufficient evidence that these devices positively affect smoking and they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as smoking cessation devices, therefore cannot be used on Binghamton University property. They contain tobacco flavoring and so are prohibited under our policy.

Can I smoke in my car on campus?
The policy prohibits the use of tobacco while in personal, state or contractor/company-owned vehicles on University property.

Does the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy apply at University-sanctioned events or sporting activities occurring on off-campus property?
The Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy applies only to University-owned, operated or leased property. Events or activities scheduled elsewhere are bound by the policies or rules of the event coordinator or property manager of those locations.

Are people permitted to use tobacco products at tailgates, sporting events and social events that occur on Binghamton University property?
Binghamton University understands that becoming tobacco free requires a change in thinking and that it may take time for the community to adjust to the University’s policy. We appreciate the support of the community as Binghamton University strives to become one of the healthiest campuses in the nation. However, the use of tobacco is prohibited on all University property. This policy applies to the entire University community as well as vendors, volunteers and visitors, and is applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Options for student and employee tobacco users

Are there resources to help employees and students quit using tobacco?
We will do all we can to support those who use tobacco products to eliminate their dependence on them, if they so desire. This includes making smoking cessation programming and non-prescription smoking cessation devices (patches, gum, lozenges, etc.) available to faculty, staff, students and our auxiliary service partners’ employees. 

Can I go off campus during my breaks to smoke?
Yes. Employees can leave campus during scheduled breaks. Hourly staff should be mindful of the length of their breaks in accordance with their department’s attendance policy. Employees should not trespass, loiter or litter on public or private property to smoke during breaks and are asked to respect Binghamton University’s neighbors and community.

Can I extend my break or change the time of my break so I have time to walk off campus to smoke?
The length and time of breaks cannot be changed to accommodate tobacco use. Breaks are usually timed to ensure business needs are met. Refer to departmental policies and/or supervisors regarding options, if applicable. It is important to consistently and fairly apply policies and business practices.

Am I able to attend tobacco-cessation sessions during paid work time?
The University is supportive of tobacco users who desire to quit using tobacco products. Options for attending tobacco-cessation sessions are based on the department’s business needs and may include flexible scheduling in accordance with the University’s work policy and use of leave time policies. Keep in mind there are various types of cessation resources; approval for time away from work to participate in a cessation program is subject to approval by the employee’s department.

What will the University do about people leaving the campus or going across the street into neighboring properties to smoke?
While the policy only applies to university-owned, operated or leased properties, we ask that students, faculty, staff, volunteers, vendors and visitors help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors and respect neighboring properties outside the campus. Leaving campus to use tobacco or to smoke does not give anyone permission to litter, loiter or trespass on private or public property. Property owners have the right to enforce their boundaries. Binghamton University is committed to monitoring the impact on adjacent properties as the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy is implemented.

Handling concerns with individuals who use tobacco on campus

How will Binghamton University enforce the tobacco-free policy?
The University’s vision for the enforcement of the tobacco-free campus policy is one in which a tobacco-free campus is viewed as the shared responsibility of all those in the campus community – tobacco users and non-users alike. Individuals are encouraged and empowered to respectfully inform others about the policy in an ongoing effort to support individuals to be tobacco free, improve individual health and encourage a culture of compliance; however, substantiated chronic violations are subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

How will the University handle employees or students who do not want to stop the use of tobacco products?
Faculty, staff and students are not required to stop using tobacco products; however, they will not be permitted to use tobacco products on any University property. Similar to regulations which prohibit smoking indoors, individuals must find ways to manage their need for nicotine in ways that do not involve using tobacco on campus.

What if I see someone using tobacco on campus?
Being tobacco free promotes a healthier environment in which to live, work and study. Enforcement will depend upon the thoughtfulness, consideration and cooperation of all faculty, staff, students, vendors, volunteers and visitors to comply with the policy and to encourage others to do the same. Anyone who observes a possible violation may courteously and compassionately inform the individual of the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy.

What do I do if my request for someone to stop using tobacco is not effective?
Our individual responsibility is to educate people about the initiative. Not everyone will feel comfortable approaching someone who is using tobacco. If you choose to approach someone and are met with resistance, you need not press the issue. Specific concerns with regard to noncompliance can be directed to the appropriate contact as indicated in the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy.

As a supervisor, what is my responsibility if I receive reports or observe an employee violating the policy?
You are empowered to hold employees accountable to University policy expectations. First, explain the expectations outlined in the policy and provide appropriate resources. If there are continued violations, identify the impact of the employee’s actions and manage it appropriately. You are encouraged to contact Human Resources for help with how to address matters of noncompliance.

Miscellaneous

How will people know that tobacco use is prohibited?
Notices bearing the message “Tobacco Free” will be posted at major University vehicular, pedestrian and building entrances. Whether or not a notice or sign is posted, all University property is tobacco free.

What are the boundaries of the University for the purposes of defining University property?
The boundaries include any property owned, operated or leased by Binghamton University. This includes and is not limited to all buildings and structures; sidewalks; parking lots; walkways, attached parking structures and University-owned, operated or leased vehicles. University community members are encouraged to respect neighbors of the University.

Are targeted efforts being made to communicate the policy to special populations who are statistically at increased risk for tobacco use?
Diversity is a core value of Binghamton University. Targeted communications and engagement are planned to convey expectations and identify resources to special populations.

Are there exceptions to the policy?
Exceptions are identified in the policy.

Have other universities implemented tobacco-free or smoke-free policies?
As of Jan. 1, 2016, there are at least 1,475 100 percent smoke-free campuses. Of these, 1,128 are 100 percent tobacco-free, and 802 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.

Where can I find additional information about the Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy and its implementation?
The Tobacco-Free Binghamton University policy and its accompanying resources