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Corey Sheely smokes a cigarette outside his West Green residence hall. (FILE)

Student ambassadors conduct walkabouts to remind students to stop smoking

James Stitt, a member of the Tobacco-Free Campus Task Force, says that many of the students he approaches are very respectful. There are no consequences yet for students who violate the smoking policy.

Jimmy Stitt hesitated before approaching a student smoking outside Gordy Hall.

“I still get nervous sometimes,” Stitt, a sophomore studying criminology, said.

As a student ambassador for the Tobacco-Free Task Force, Stitt walks the Ohio University campus for about an hour each week and reminds people OU is now a tobacco-free campus if he sees them smoking. He joined the task force about three months ago to earn service hours. He continued because he believed in the message.

“Both of my grandmas smoked for most of their adult lives,” Stitt said. “It wound up contributing to their deaths. You could say I’ve seen the effects of tobacco.”

Tobacco-free campus coordinator Cathy Lee said there are no consequences for students breaking the smoking ban, which went into effect Aug. 1, beyond the reminders from members of the task force.

Lee added that members of the task force want students, faculty and staff aware of the policy before putting consequences in place.

Stitt said before hitting the streets, the group of about seven student ambassadors went to a two-hour lecture to learn the best ways to approach people.

Students who are aware of the policy and smoke anyway don’t tend to respond well to the reminders, Stitt said.

“It’s a mixed bag,” Stitt said. “You get those students who are receptive and polite and even want to have a conversation about it. There’s also always a few students who want to step up and assert their rights. They remind you that it’s a free country and all that.”

When Stitt does walkabouts, he usually hits the spots where he’s seen students smoking before, he said, including College Green, outside Clippinger Laboratories and outside Baker Center. He added that he sees people smoking outside Bentley Hall in the mornings, and many of these people are staff members.

“It’s not like we’re asking a whole lot,” Stitt said. “Just go across the street and maybe light up there.

Stitt approached Patrick McKenna, an undecided sophomore, and Carter Elsass, an undecided freshman, as they smoked on a park bench outside Alden Library.

“I feel bad,” Elsass said. “I told Patrick we should not come here to smoke.”

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McKenna said they had been approached before while smoking outside Alden, but not by a student ambassador.

“It’s a good place to smoke,” McKenna said. “All these students coming into the library are stressed out about their studies, and they want to smoke.”

They were aware of the policy, Elsass said, but thought the ban only included places nearby residence halls. He said the policy makes it hard for people to smoke.

“It’s a part of my life that I don’t really like,” Elsass said. “Quitting isn’t really feasible at this point in my life. I mean, I’ve been on Chantix (a medicine to help quit smoking) before.”

Fawaz Binmoeen, a student studying business who Stitt approached outside of Gordy, said the policy has helped him cut back on smoking a little.

“For me, it’s okay if someone tells me respectfully,” Binmoeen said. “It’s good for me.”



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