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The Purchase Tobacco Policy and its Aftermath

By Chris Cumella

Anonymous Purchase student lighting a pipe filled with tobacco in public on campus. (Photo by Chris Cumella)

Upon returning to the same SUNY Purchase campus that all students know well, many were met with familiar sights and surroundings, such as the late-night lights radiating from the library, the thick aroma of various foods from the Hub, Terra Ve, and the Dining Hall, and even the sounds of skateboards wheels smacking the tile floors. What some students may not have been anticipating was a tobacco policy implemented on the entire campus. Despite this policy being in place, the prominent usage of tobacco on campus appears to be more or less the same.

Like other SUNY campuses, Purchase is now a tobacco-free campus. Dennis Craig, Officer in Charge and Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said at a town hall meeting in September that Purchase’s controversial new smoking policy is still a “work in progress.” This very same work in progress is falling upon deaf ears, as many students, in response to this policy, are continuing their use of tobacco on campus, in public or not.

Different students across campus all have their own opinions of the policy, some expressing concerns and others expressing disappointment, while some don’t express much care for the policy at all.

Arturo Calderon-Caswell, a new-media sophomore said, “I’m glad that people won’t be smoking around me anymore, but I’m just worried that the fire alarms are going to be going off every day.”

During an administration press conference, the question of the potential risk of fire alarms being set off from students attempting to smoke in their dorms was brought up. Craig responded to this by stating, “This policy was still a work in progress, and I’m hoping to have students working with this rule because I see students smoking and I don’t want to go up to them and force them to remove it, that’s not what I want my job to be.”

Those who smoke, such as new media major Kirby Sallustro, said, “There’s going to be a lot more smoking and vaping in the dorms, possibly setting off more fire alarms,” in response to whether there was a possibility this ban could have unintended consequences.

There is a lot of back and forth between what people think is going to happen due to this policy, and what the Purchase staff believes may happen. Despite the commotion, Vice President Craig made it abundantly clear during the press conference that no student seen with a cigarette is going to face harsh repercussions.

Prior to this policy being put in place, students on campus who wished to smoke would be required to use the designated “Smoking Benches” perched between the Dining Hall and the Crossroads building. Since the policy has been put in place, the benches are now moot.

“Prior to the smoking ban, there were designated smoking areas,” said Dantae Megias, a playwriting/screenwriting major. “Putting those prior policies back in place would help people be more conscious about those around them, and not stink up the whole campus.”

Under the same discussion of cleanliness on campus post-policy, computer science major Orion Watler said, “There’s going to be a lot more cigarette butts on campus, I’ve already seen a few. I’m not the only one. It’s just going to be an inevitable polluting problem.”

Despite the bench being a no-tobacco zone along with the rest of the campus, it has not stopped students who abode by the rules last year. “The world is essentially our ashtray now,” said Kimberly Robeson, an undeclared sophomore. “Purchase taking away designated smoking spots doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop smoking. It just means now I don’t have a proper spot to do it.”



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