For students who are tired of seeing cigarette butts littering the ground, have friends and relatives that are looking to quit smoking, or are simply curious about tobacco and its effects, there is light at the end of the smoke-filled tunnel.
The New York State Tobacco-Free College Conference is coming to the University at Buffalo's Center for Tomorrow this Monday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Registration will begin day of at 9:30 a.m. The conference will also be making stops in Syracuse, Albany, and New York City.
"Our goal with this conference, and the three others across the state the same week, is to educate the entire campus community on why a tobacco-free campus is so important and the right thing to do," said Jennifer Sullivan, a member of the American Cancer Society, the entity responsible for the conferences. "[We] really wanted to concentrate on a project that was focusing on colleges actively working on the development and implementation of 100 percent tobacco-free campus policies and perhaps take it to a system like SUNY that had influence over 64 campuses."
"The whole idea for these conferences spawned when Ty Patterson was on campus in the fall," said Stacie Waddell, another member of the American Cancer Society who is instrumental in designing tobacco free policies for campus life. "Also, since a 100 percent tobacco-free campus is our goal, and UB is ahead of the curve, we wanted to kick the week off here."
The keynote speaker of all four conferences will by Ty Patterson, director of the National Center for Tobacco Policy, who spoke at UB last semester in a workshop to help spread the word on UBreathe Free. Patterson got started in this field when he was asked to spearhead UB's tobacco-free initiative in 2003 at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, Mo. Since then, he has been speaking at schools across the continent in an effort to bring about more smoke-free campuses. Patterson himself is a successful quitter after 20 years of smoking.
In the spirit of helping people end their addiction to tobacco, the Wellness Education Services on North Campus is continuing its "Quit Smoking Walk-in Clinics" Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone who is interested can come in and receive education, plans, stop-smoking aids, and advice.
Whether students are interested in what the UBreathe Free policy actually entails or they want to speak out either against or for the policy, everyone is welcome to come and join in the conversation.