To the Editor,
I am writing in response to your August 22 article entitled “Campus Smoking Ban Takes Effect.” I appreciate your coverage of this important change in University policy, which prohibits the use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes on all UR campuses with the exception of three designated smoking areas on the River Campus. (In addition to the three on the Medical Center campus.
The story quoted one former student who called into question the survey methods we used, in April 2016, to find out how UR students felt about a possible change in tobacco policy. Surveys were sent to over 3,600 freshmen, sophomores and juniors, and we got a 34 percent response rate. Seventy-four percent of respondents favored limiting smoking to designated areas on campus.
The same survey was sent to over 2,000 graduate students on the River Campus; the response rate was 19 percent. Seventy-six percent of respondents favored limiting smoking to designated areas on campus, with very little variation among the three graduate schools.
While it was not possible for us to survey River Campus employees, we did hold several open forums in order to give employees an opportunity to express their views on the proposed policy change, prior to President Seligman’s announcement one year ago. Again, the majority of those who attended and spoke out expressed support for limiting smoking to a few designated areas on the River Campus.
Smoke and tobacco free policies have been implemented successfully at hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S., some smaller and some larger than UR. Research shows that they are effective in reducing tobacco use among students and in reducing tobacco smoke exposure among non-users of tobacco. The first few days of the new UR policy being in effect have gone smoothly, and I am delighted that the University has taken another step towards making the health of our community ever better.
Ralph A Manchester, MD, FACP
Vice-Provost and Director, University Health Service
Professor of Medicine