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Upstate's Geneva Tower gets region's first 'Healthy High Rise" designation

Geneva Tower, Upstate Medical University's downtown Syracuse residence hall, is the first smoke-free high rise building in upstate New York to be designated as a "Healthy High Rise" by the American Cancer Society.

Healthy High Rises is an American Cancer Society recognition program for multi-unit residential housing in New York and New Jersey that have a smoke-free policy, meaning no one is allowed to smoke anywhere in the building. The program is designed to promote healthier environments, reduce cancer risk, and improve the quality of people’s lives by reducing exposure to harmful secondhand smoke seeping into people’s homes.

"For the first time, students have the opportunity to live smoke-free," said Lisa Smith, regional vice president for the American Cancer Society’s Central New York Region. "Upstate Medical University is a leader, and today we recognize them for providing a healthy living environment for students where secondhand smoke will no longer permeate walls and crevices of their building."

Julie White, Ph.D., Upstate dean of student affairs, is grateful for the American Cancer Society designation. "A key part of Upstate Medical University's mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve. This designation from the American Cancer Society speaks directly to how our actions are doing just that, building healthier communities. This designation shows that we have started that work at home," White said.

Geneva Tower isn't just a smoke-free building; tobacco products are prohibited on tower grounds. In fact, smoking and tobacco products are not allowed in any university building or on any property owned or leased by the university. In addition, all Upstate employees and students are able to receive free smoking cessation counseling. In 2005, Upstate became the first SUNY campus to become smoke free.

Leslie Kohman, MD, medical director of the Upstate Cancer Center, who has worked closely on numerous initiatives with Upstate and the American Cancer Society, says the Healthy High Rises designation speaks to Upstate’s leadership in combating cancer.

"From a clinical perspective, it is truly fitting for Upstate to be the first institution in upstate New York to receive this designation from the American Cancer Society," Kohman said. "Whether it's early detection through advanced screening options, or eradicating cancer through our cutting-edge surgical procedures or paving the way for new treatments through our clinical trials and research, Upstate has been out front in the fight against cancer. We will add this designation to our list of firsts."

Upstate’s Geneva Tower’s lobby will feature a plaque, noting its “Healthy High Rise designation, and window decals also will highlight the accolade.

Geneva Tower becomes the first building in upstate New York to earn the designation, joining 14 buildings in the New York City area. The awardees include more than 2,700 housing units and nearly 5,000 total residents who enjoy a smoke-free environment

The 21-story Geneva Tower, located at 500 Harrison Street, is home to more than 180 Upstate students.