Healthy Living: Smoking on college campus

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Saturday, August 18, 2012 | Geoff Redick | Categories:
It seems never-ending: The battle over smokers' rights. Now, it's come to college campuses. YNN’s Geoff Redick reports. "Really what we're trying to accomplish is a cultural change," said Ralph Manchester, U of R Health Services. The University of Rochester is one of the latest to consider restricting smokers to designated "smoking areas." "We're looking at the number of universities in our peer group who are smoke-free, and that's now a majority," said Manchester. But Health Services Director Ralph Manchester says it's not a case of copycatting. "There is good evidence now that even outdoor secondhand smoke exposure can result in significant health defects," said Manchester. The effects are significant. According to the Surgeon General, as many as 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. can be traced to secondhand smoke. What's more, when the smoke stops, studies show public health improves. "By not having smokers seen in society as much, that seems to decrease the interest in smokers starting," said Geoffrey Williams, MD, Ph.D - URMC Healthy Living. Dr. Geoffrey Williams works with smokers who have an interest in quitting. He says even former smokers who no longer light up would still benefit from a campus-wide ban. "Smokers who've not smoked even up to a year - about one-third of them will relapse, in situations where they see someone smoking and they smell the cigarette smoke," said Dr. Williams. But by removing the smokers from public settings, the culture of smoking is also removed. "When I started working here at the university, there were no restrictions on smoking anywhere. I was at meetings where people were smoking in the room where we were meeting. Nowadays, no one would think of doing that. That's a culture change," said Manchester. The proposal at U of R closely follows a decision this past June to ban smoking on all 63 SUNY campuses statewide. Now, with their territory shrinking, smokers are on the defensive. "I would prefer that they don't designate non-smoking zones...we don't have much breaks during the classes, between classes, so it's really kind of difficult to walk all the way, and then come back," said Vinwt Sinha, student & smoker.
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