Monroe County Colleges Celebrate Tobacco-free Policies

The Million Hearts High Blood Pressure Collaborative Steering Committee, in partnership with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Health Care Initiative, the Smoking & Health Action Coalition of Monroe County, and the American Heart Association, hosted a celebration of Monroe County colleges and universities adopting tobacco-free policies, or moving in that direction, at RIT. 

The event was inspired by National High Blood Pressure Education Month, National Clean Air Month, and World No Tobacco Day May 31.  RIT President Bill Destler delivered remarks along with other college presidents and representatives.

Destler said, “RIT is committed to facilitating a healthy working, learning, and living environment.  To prevent harm to members of the RIT community and to be consistent with university wellness initiatives, smoking and use of tobacco products are restricted to designated tobacco areas on all university-managed properties.  This policy brings the university in line with more than 1,500 colleges and universities in the United States that are tobacco-restricted or have banned tobacco use on campus entirely.”

Roberts Wesleyan College President Deana Porterfield said, “Roberts Wesleyan College is proud to partner with The American Heart Association and the Rochester Area Colleges in promoting tobacco-free campuses.  Roberts Wesleyan has been a tobacco-free campus since our founding in 1866.  This policy supports our campus health and well-being by protecting students, faculty, staff and visitors.  It is vitally important, and part of our Christian mission, to provide learning and living spaces that are a clean, healthy environment for everyone on our campus.”   

Monroe Community College President Anne Kress said, “MCC has been tobacco-free since 2015.  The reason behind our effort was simple: to provide a healthy and safe learning environment for employees, students, and visitors. Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and a host of other conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer.  Despite these risks, numerous studies show tobacco use remains a serious public health issue – particularly for young people.  We could not claim to care about our students and ignore the opportunity to help ensure their future personal and professional success.”

The College at Brockport President Dr. Heidi R. Macpherson said, “The College at Brockport has proudly been a smoke-free campus since August 2011 and we applaud the efforts of those willing to stand up and be heard.”

Nazareth College President Daan Braveman said, “As a campus that models health and wellness, we are advocating a healthy, safe, and clean environment for our students, visitors and for the Nazareth community.  This policy will help us achieve that goal.”

University of Rochester Department of University Health Service Director Ralph Manchester, M.D. said, “As a research university with a large academic medical center, the University of Rochester is committed to creating an environment that promotes health for its students, staff, and visitors. Studies show that tobacco-free policies result in lower smoking rates and less exposure to secondhand smoke. These two outcomes are perfect examples of the University’s motto, which is Meliora – ‘ever better’.”

Recently, the Student Government Association of St. John Fisher College proposed a move toward a more smoke-free campus following a survey that included 350 students from across the college. Of those who took the survey, the majority indicated that they would be in favor of a more smoke-free campus. Fisher created a campus Smoke-Free Task Force to lead the discussion by soliciting additional feedback from its campus community regarding the existing policies in place and about how the college might become a more smoke-free campus.

Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce supports efforts aimed at lowering health care costs for employers and their employees.  To address our members’ concerns, we have joined with several business and community partners to form the Rochester Chamber Health Care Initiative which aims to foster affordable, quality health care with the ultimate goal of making Rochester the healthiest community in America.