Cortland (WSYR-TV) -- In just a few weeks SUNY Cortland will ban anyone from using tobacco products anywhere on its campus.
Starting January 1, the school will become one of only a handful in New York and the only residential campus in the SUNY system to enact this policy.
The school community has had plenty of time to prepare, nearly a year-and-a-half ago the announcement was made the campus would be tobacco-free at the beginning of 2013. There are reminders everywhere, including a countdown on the school's in-house TV information channel, the day is coming soon that the ban will be in effect.
“The campus is taking a leadership role in an overall cultural change, as we should as an education institution,” said Marie Blanden with the SUNY Cortland Tobacco Advisory Committee.
The policy applies to anyone on campus: faculty, staff, visitors and students.
“Actually, college students are prime targets of the tobacco industry because they’re not allowed, the tobacco industry, to promote its products to people younger than 18 years old,” said SUNY Cortland Health Educator Cathy Smith.
Smith says it’s a chance to get them to stop, if they’ve just started, or not have them start at all. She says the policy is meant to educate, not punish, so it will be up to everyone to enforce it.
"If I'm walking and see someone who is using tobacco I'm going to make the presumption that they don't know the policy has changed and ask them to please not use the tobacco,” Smith said.
Signs will soon be put up around campus reminding students, faculty, staff and visitors that SUNY Cortland is a tobacco-free school.
"I've heard students say it would be nice to walk through campus and not have to deal with secondhand smoke. It's a pretty athletic school and most people don't smoke and don't want to be around that,” said SUNY Cortland student Shannon Reardon.
Since the time Cortland State made its announcement, SUNY has ordered all of its campuses to be tobacco-free by the end of next year.