It's a policy that's been a long time coming. SUNY ESF is working to put an end to smoking on campus.
“I suffer asthma a lot so it can be hard for me to deal with just walking up some stairs so when people are smoking or vaping nearby, it just makes me feel worse,” said ESF student Katharine O’Lare. “So I'm really relieved to know I don't have to worry about that on campus at all because It's so hard for me to attend class if I can't breathe."
Nearby colleges, Syracuse University and Upstate Medical University went smoke free more than 15 years ago. New leadership at ESF instated the policy on January 1st.
"My own mother started her smoking habit at SU when she was in college and i had to live thorough watching her try to quit the most addictive drug that is out there. She in the end ended up dying of copd which is terrible, I couldn't be a participant in allowing an environment to continue that was more or less encouragement this behavior," said SUN ESF Interim President David Amberg.
In addition to harmful health effects, cigarette butts are the number one plastic polluter in the world. Trillions are littered, putting nicotine, heavy metal, and chemicals into the environment.
Studies show that when cigarette butts are tossed onto the ground they inhibit plant growth. From there they often get in to the waterways, where they can leach toxic chemicals for up to 10 years.
"They don't degrade very quickly at all so it is an environmental issue,” said Amberg. “But it's also a sustainability issue. We pride ourselves on all our sustainable efforts and this was a piece we hadn't gotten around to."
Most students feel it's a positive change on campus.
“I've been seeing a lot of stuff, we got e-mails about it,” said O’Lare. “I know throughout last semester there were making workshops with smoke quite kits to help people get off it before it started and I've been noticing they've put up lots of signs and lots of stickers on the door to remind everyone of the policy."
The Campus Health Center is offering cessation programs for those who need help quitting.