New York law prompts new SU smoking policy
New York law prompts new SU smoking policyJuly 14, 2003Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
With changes in New York’s Public Health Law set to take effect July 24, Syracuse University is moving to prohibit smoking in all areas of the workplace, including indoor facilities and University vehicles. Smoking is not permitted in private enclosed offices, conference and meeting rooms, cafeteria areas, lunchrooms or employee lounges, and smoking rooms across the University will be closed after July 23.
“We are changing our policy to reflect the new state law,” says Neil B. Strodel, the University’s associate vice president for Human Resources. “Since the University is already in compliance with the existing New York Clean Indoor Air Act, and in some cases exceeds the requirements, the actual impact of this policy amendment is minimal. The most significant changes the University community will notice will be the new prohibition on smoking in vehicles and the closure of smoking rooms on campus.”
The University’s policy – outlined in a July 2 notice to all employees – is consistent with the amendment to New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act signed by Gov. George Pataki on March 26, banning smoking in virtually all indoor areas statewide. The purpose of the law is to prevent, or limit significantly, exposure to second-hand smoke. The law defines “smoking” as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco.” The statewide ban applies to places of employment; bars; food service establishments; public transportation; youth centers; child care centers; other homes and institutions for children; colleges and universities; hospitals and health care facilities; commercial establishments; indoor arenas; zoos; and bingo facilities.
The law carries civil penalties for the University in the case of non-compliance. Policy violators will be subject to the same progressive discipline process used with other violations of University rules, starting with a verbal reprimand from their managers, followed by a written warning and other suitable steps leading either to the behavior being corrected or – in the most extreme cases – termination of employment.
“I am confident that most situations will be handled in a way that does not involve the disciplinary process,” says Strodel, who asks managers to be responsible for preventing violations in their areas and to inform employees who drive University vehicles that they may no longer smoke there. Information on smoking cessation is available from:
- New York Smokers’ Quit Line at 1-866NYQUITS (1-866-697-8487); http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/search/index.htm
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/how2quit.htm
- American Lung Association, http://www.lungusa.org/tobacco/quitting_smoke.html
- Syracuse University Employee Assistance Program, x1087; http://humanresources.syr.edu/eap/info.html
University employees with questions about the new policy should contact Curlene Autrey at 443-1520 or Pat Tassini at 443-5464 for non-bargaining unit matters; or Jack Matson at 443-5461 or Debbi West at 443-4624 for bargaining unit matters.