Ohio University implemented a smoke-free campus policy along with creating a task force to monitor the initiative in the fall semester of 2015 but the task force is no longer active.
Jim Sabin, OU spokesman, said OU became a tobacco-free campus in accordance with a resolution made by the Ohio Board of Regents in 2012. The policy change came after OU sought input about what the policy should look like from a survey, open forums and the university’s shared governmental bodies.
Journalism professor Aimee Edmondson tweeted about this issue, raising concern about whether or not the policy was still in effect. Edmondson said OU has so many wonderful initiatives on campus that it needs to take a lead on maintaining the smoke-free policy.
“We really need to take the lead on something such as the no smoking on-campus idea because we know the effects of smoking on the human body and second hand smoke, and we were bold in 2015 to initiate this, we just need to see it through.”
Edmondson said she had noticed a change on campus since the policy went into effect, and she also noticed not having to walk through a trail of smoke from primarily students on campus. She said the campus seemed cleaner, healthier and more welcoming.
When the policy went into effect in 2015, Edmondson said she noticed signs around campus about the policy but recently as the weather has gotten warmer she has seen an increase in smokers and began to wonder where the signs went.
“Regardless of what anyone can say it is one of the easiest things someone can get addicted to on a college campus,” Kevin McKernan, a freshman studying marketing, said in an email.
Sabin said when the policy went into effect OU created a part-time position to roll out the initiative. They put up brochures and temporary signage but due to a lack of funding the position was eliminated after one semester.
Edmondson said sometimes she will stop to inform or remind students who are smoking that OU is a smoke-free campus, and back in 2016 and 2017 the students would immediately extinguish their cigarettes. Now, Edmondson said sometimes students will rudely argue with her or ignore her all together.
Sabin said the committee responsible for creating and forming the policy decided e-cigarettes should be added to the smoke-free policy because of the lack of research on second hand vape and non-regulation by the FDA.
The university first decided to approach the initiative from a health and wellness perspective in order to protect the health of students, faculty, staff and guests visiting campus. They even thought about implementing designated smoke areas but since they were promoting wellness they decided against them, Sabin said.
E-cigarettes are a real issue because people don’t notice them as much, and students are used to being able to use e-cigarettes around campus more often than regular cigarettes, Edmondson said.
Edmondson said she believes more signs, public service announcements and better publicity around the issue could help with the rise of smokers she has seen on campus. Edmondson suggested posting signs up around all the entry points around places like Baker University Center and all of the greens.
McKernan said he is unsure of the impact putting up signs would have on students.
“People who are smoking on campus should be embarrassed and sneaking them,” Edmondson said.