By Julia Weiss
UAlbany plans to provide nicotine-free therapy to students using nicotine-smoking products, such as cigarettes and vaping devices.
The move was prompted by the University’s recent ban of smoking on campus.
Smoking on campus was officially banned in November of 2018, only for the policy to be amended a few months later in February.
Said amendment pushed back the full ban of smoking products until January 2020, and created certain designated “smoking areas” until then.
Grace Piotrowski, a freshman on campus who does not smoke cigarettes, was unaware of the smoking ban at all, as well as the therapy group.
“I don’t like cigarettes at all so I agree with banning cigarette smoking, but I only agree with the cigarettes. I think everything else, I think that’s ridiculous, and unfair,” Piotrowski said.
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis, who is responsible for all smoke-free policies on campus, provided this statement in a letter to the UAlbany community:
“Understanding the challenge this change may pose to some members of our community, the University is offering craving management and cessation services to students and employees who would like assistance in managing or ending their tobacco use.”
A PhD student at the university who does not smoke, Aakriti Upadhyay, is well aware of the smoking ban due to the multiple emails from the administration, such as the one containing the above statement of Dr. Christakis.
Regarding the ban, Upadhyay said that she “thinks it’s a good thing because I’ve been seeing people, even though weed is banned in New York, I see students smoking it a lot and that’s not good.”
This Tobacco Cessation Group, a type of tobacco-free therapy, will be open to all students once enough are enrolled in the program, according to assistant director of the University Counseling Center, Dolores Cimini.
In addition, there are free nicotine-replacement patches available at health services.
It is important to note that smokeless tobacco such as snuff and chew, is not prohibited under the policy.
This service will be located in the Counseling and Psychological Services at UAlbany’s off-campus health center, and will be run by Dr. Brian Freidenberg of CAPS.
According to the official policy on the University’s website, if a student is caught smoking more than two times on campus after the ban goes into effect, they will be encouraged to attend the group.
Everyone on campus is “expected to comply with the policy,” though there is no clear method of enforcement of the ban detailed in the policy brief.
“Oh that’s good. I think even if you try to give a suggestion to somebody about stopping a certain thing, they won’t listen to you until and unless they are at risk. They know the smoking will affect them and their health but still, students being educated, they want to go for it so I think having a strict rule at our university is a good thing.”