Reminder: OU's tobacco ban will start next semester.

Ohio University students will have an easier time taking a breath of fresh air around campus next semester when Ohio University’s tobacco free initiative goes into effect.

Even a short walk north on Court Street will not provide smokers a place to light up, as the city of Athens recently prohibited smoking in most public places.

“I am not going to assume that no one is ever going to smoke on Ohio University grounds ever again after Aug. 1,” said Catherine Lee, coordinator of Tobacco-Free Campus.  “Our hope is that we will see a decrease in smoking.”

This policy will apply to students, staff, visitors, patients, customers and anyone on campus, Lee said.

The Tobacco Free Initiative encompasses all nicotine, tobacco-derived and plant-based products including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookah, chew, spit and snuff. Those products will be prohibited in university facilities, property, grounds and sidewalks adjacent to university buildings.

The initiative began with the Board of Regents recommendation in July 2012 for all public universities in Ohio to become tobacco free, Lee said.

“Several campuses have preceded us in that; they moved a little quicker than we did,” Lee said.

Ohio State University’s tobacco free initiative was launched Jan. 1, 2014.

“We wanted to take a longer time just so that we were careful about the process and thoughtful about it,” Lee said.

The Tobacco Free Initiative conduced surveys, and a task force was put forth to make a recommendation on whether OU should go tobacco-free or not, Lee said. 

Launched on Jan. 1, the city of Athens now prohibits the use of tobacco at city-owned recreational properties, such as parks, city parking lots and sidewalks, according to a previous Post article.

Jayme Beal, a senior studying health administration who smokes, thinks the Tobacco Free Initiative is a good thing.

“No one likes to see cigarettes laying and smell the smoke. … A lot more people don’t smoke than do smoke,” Beal said.

Adding a bit of advice, she said, “Don’t start smoking.” 

The goal of the initiative is to “promote health for the students and employees,” Lee said.  

There currently is no punishment in place next semester for lighting up a cigarette on campus. Officials are instead relying on cooperation from both smokers and non-smokers.

“We haven’t really outlined any punishments; we want to focus on asking for compliance and reminding people and encouraging people to consider the wellness aspects of the policy,” Lee said.

Katie Black, a junior studying nutrition and a non-smoker, said she thinks the Tobacco Free Initiative is a good thing.

“I think it will simultaneously make the campus either healthier or sneakier,” Black said.

President Roderick McDavis and Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi have expressed that they don’t want students suspended or employees fired for smoking on campus.

OU’s Tobacco Free Initiative website, went live last week, Lee said.

The initiative is using a “variety of techniques” to get the message across, including the website, presenting to Student Senate, International Student Union and tour guides and working with Bobcat Student Orientation and Residential Housing.

Free tobacco-cessation classes, based on curriculum from American Cancer Society, are being offered this semester through the health promotion department in Baker University Center. 

“You don’t have to be ready to quit as soon as you start the class,” Lee said. “It’s really about giving you the tools and strategies to quit when you are ready.”

@megankhenry

mh573113@ohio.edu

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