Entrance to the Eastern Campus of the Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Gayle Sheridan)
While the Suffolk County Legislature has been considering increasing the age for everyone throughout the county to purchase tobacco — from age 19 to 21 — another measure could ban smoking completely in a few areas around Suffolk: the community college campuses.
The proposal comes neatly two years after the State University of New York’s trustees voted to ban smoking on all state college campuses, a measure that is still waiting for state legislative approval in order to be enforced.
Because the fact that Suffolk County Community College isn’t regulated by the SUNY trustee board, college officials said that county approval of the measure would bring a smoke-free campus — actually, all three campuses — to the 26,000 students at the schools.
Ben Zwirn, director of legislative affairs at SCCC, said last week that SCCC would be the biggest college campus in the state to ban smoking entirely on its grounds should the measure pass.
Mr. Zwirn cited secondhand smoke as a health issue to those not smoking on campus, in addition to litter. He added that in an online survey of the student body, over 70 percent of respondents — over 2,800 people — were in favor of the regulation.
The move to ban smoking on campus comes on the heels of Legislator William Spencer’s effort to raise the age to buy tobacco products entirely throughout Suffolk. That proposal was subject to a public hearing last month, and will be debated again on Tuesday afternoon at the legislature’s general meeting.
He is expected to sponsor the legislation on Tuesday banning smoking on campus. After that, the measure would need committee approval, be subject to a public hearing, require approval from the entire legislative body, and need a signature from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Dr. Spencer (D-Centerport) said last week that “We’re looking to create a healthy, smoke-free environment within the the college’s jurisdiction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try that.”