Gateway Community College First to Be Smoke-Free among Public Conn. Colleges and Universities

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NEW HAVEN » Gateway Community College Wednesday became the first of 17 Connecticut public colleges and universities to become smoke- free.

"This shows our commitment to student and faculty life and to have them live one which we think is not just academic but environmental, as well," said Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick.

On the 50th anniversary of the first surgeon general warning about the dangers of smoking, Gateway became a part of the 1,182 colleges and universities across the nation to initiate such a plan. It took steps to what Kendrick said would make their campus environment a healthier place.

Kendrick said that when the school moved from its Long Wharf campus to its current location at 20 Church St., officials knew they wanted a smoke-free campus.

"At our Long Wharf campus, we have designated smoking areas, and no smoking was allowed in the building, which was somewhat unusual," Kendrick said. "When we moved to where we are now, we knew we wanted to be smoke-free, and I don't think it will be hard."

Kendrick said their students' participation in a study at Yale- New Haven Hospital regarding smoking in 2012 also affected the decision to move toward becoming a smoke-free campus.

Helping announces the intiatives Wednesday were U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Health Administrator (RHA) and Deputy RHA Betsy Rosenfeld; state Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen; and Board of Regents for Higher Education President Gregory Gray.

Mullen said one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds in Connecticut are smokers, so starting this type of initiative on college campuses is important.

"This is a community college, so I know I am not just talking to 18- to 24-year-olds here, and I know it is stressful, but there is no safe level of even just secondhand smoke," Mullen said. "This is just another step to a tobacco-free life, and if you initiate a tobacco-free life when you are a student, it leads you to a healthier life later. …