Suffolk Community College seeks smoking ban in all 3 campuses

Suffolk County Community College trustees are aiming to

Suffolk County Community College trustees are aiming to ban smoking all over campus, including buildings such as the Smithtown Science Center on the Ammerman campus in Selden. Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Suffolk County Community College wants to ban smoking and other tobacco use across its three campuses, which would make it the first public college on Long Island with a blanket ban.

The college board of trustees voted unanimously last week to ask the Suffolk County Legislature to allow it to ban tobacco use at its campuses in Brentwood, Selden and Riverhead.

The measure follows a push by the State University of New York to ban tobacco use on all SUNY campuses across the state through legislation pending in Albany.

Suffolk County already bars smoking inside and within 50 feet of county buildings, which include those at SCCC. The college decided to move ahead with its own policy after an online poll last fall showed overwhelming support for making the college smoke-free, said Ben Zwirn, intergovernmental relations coordinator for the college.

Of 2,875 students and employees who responded, almost 70 percent "strongly supported" or "somewhat supported" the community college becoming completely tobacco- and smoke-free.

"This would be sending a message statewide," Zwirn said. SCCC, with 26,000 students, is the largest of the state's 36 community colleges.

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Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport) said he would be willing to sponsor the resolution in the county legislature.

"It's in line with my philosophy that smoking is not good at any time for anyone," said Spencer, a physician and chairman of the legislature's health committee.

If the resolution passes, it would be up to the board of trustees to vote to enact the policy. It would also set a timetable for when a ban would go into effect, which has not been determined.

In 2012, the SUNY board of trustees passed a resolution setting the goal of having all of its campuses throughout the state tobacco-free by Jan. 1, 2014, said David Doyle, spokesman for the system. A bill in Albany was introduced in 2013, but didn't come up for a vote. Another bill is pending in the State Legislature.

The push to eliminate tobacco from campuses "is part of SUNY's strategic plan to contribute to a healthy New York," Doyle said.

So far, nine schools have banned tobacco, including Buffalo State and Westchester Community College.

Nassau Community College has had no discussions about a complete tobacco ban on its campuses, said Alicia Steger, a college spokeswoman.

NCC has installed additional signage about existing county smoking policies around campus.

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