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Promoting tobacco-free colleges and universities

Representatives from seven area colleges that are either smoke-free or are moving in that direction gathered at RIT to celebrate tobacco-free policies.

Schools like Monroe Community College and the College at Brockport are already smoke free.

So is Roberts Wesleyan, tobacco-free since 1866.

Rochester Institute of Technology isn't quite there yet, but its President, Bill Destler, says they have a few isolated locations around campus where people can smoke.

He says that's primarily for the several thousand international students at the school.

"In eastern Europe especially, smoking is still quite prevalent.  And so what we're trying to do is get them over here and get them to understand the risks and hopefully they'll quit," he said.

Destler says RIT is trying to move to a position where it can welcome international students, and also be tobacco free.

Credit Alex Crichton
Representatives from RIT, MCC, The College at Brockport, U of R, Roberts Wesleyan and St. John Fisher College took part in the event

RIT is conducting research on smoking alternatives like e-cigarettes and the resulting health impacts.

MCC President Anne Kress says that school has been smokeless since 2014, and putting that policy in place has led to other initiatives to help smokers quit.

"The emphasis shouldn't be on let's stop smoking, let's demonize folks who smoke.  But instead, let's instead emphasize health, emphasize wellness, and provide folks with on ramps or off ramps from addictive habits, into other more healthy habits," she said.

The Million Hearts High Blood Pressure Collaborative Steering Committee, in partnership with the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Health Care Initiative, the Smoking and Health Action Coalition of Monroe County, and the American Heart Association, hosted the event celebrating colleges and universities adopting tobacco-free policies, or moving in that direction.

Cindy Reddeck-LiDestri is chair of the Million Hearts Steering Committee.

She says smoking is the most common preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Her group aims to use resources and expertise in the community to try to advance cardiovascular health.

WXXI sought out smokers on RIT's campus for reaction, but none was found. 

Here's MCC President Anne Kress on that school's policy: