While Ohio State officials have said they hope the OSU tobacco ban will “trickle down” to high schoolers, some high school students said the new policy isn’t going to play into their college decision.
OSU began an enforced campus-wide tobacco ban Jan. 1 on all tobacco products including cigarettes, tobacco chew, snuff, e-cigarettes and snus, which is a “spitless,” moist powder tobacco pouch, according to the American Cancer Society.
For some high school students who have submitted their applications to OSU this year, the ban has been a topic of conversation.
Tori Geiger, a senior from Wayne High School in Dayton who does not smoke, said she supports the new ban.
“When I read it (OSU’s tobacco ban), I thought it was a really good idea and I hope it’s enforced,” Geiger said. “It’s 2014. Everyone should know the dangers of smoking and of secondhand smoke.”
Geiger said while she’s happy about the ban, she hopes it’s actually enforced.
“It’s nice to see OSU working to protect everyone’s health. I’m completely comfortable with the ban,” Geiger said. “I just think it’s one of those things that whoever (is) in charge of enforcing it, they’re going to have (to) stay really on top of, especially with the e-cigarettes.”
Others, though, aren’t as enthusiastic about the new policy.
Seth Morrison, a senior student from West Holmes High School in Millersburg who smokes, said he doesn’t support the ban.
“That’s pretty ridiculous,” Morrison said. “It (includes) outdoors and in public, which seems pretty contradictory. Obviously, tobacco isn’t the healthiest thing ever, but it’s still legal outdoors.”
Morrison said he doesn’t think secondhand smoke is a significant issue outside.
“How much secondhand smoke are you going to experience outside? Not much. It’s more of an inconvenience than anything,” Morrison said.
The campus-wide ban was announced in 2013, and was set to take effect Aug. 1. In August, however, university officials said the ban would not be enforced until 2014.
Tobacco ban violations are not handled by the University Police, but instead by the Office of Human Resources.
Dr. Peter Shields, deputy director of the Wexner Medical Center James Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the goal of the tobacco ban is to build a healthier environment on campus.
“We know in tobacco control no single thing that we do is a magic bullet, whether it’s higher taxes for cigarettes or indoor air laws or lots of smoking cessation availability, lots of good media coverage about the harmful effects of tobacco use — it’s all a package,” Shields said in an interview with The Lantern Jan. 16.
Morrison, though, said the policy change won’t affect his decision about where to go to college.
“Like I said, it’s more of an inconvenience,” Morrison said. “Smoking isn’t a priority to my school experience.”
Morrison said it might be hard for him to find another more convenient way to release his stress besides smoking if he goes to OSU.
Alex Maytin, a senior from Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights who does not smoke, said the tobacco policy seems overly “restrictive.”
“Personally, I don’t smoke,” Maytin said. “But … people have rights to really harm their bodies if they want to.”
OSU has spent about $43,000 of its $100,000 tobacco ban signage budget to make sure when visitors come to campus, they remember to put out their cigarettes. Signs have been placed outside several university buildings, including the Ohio Union, and banners have been hung in parking garages.
The money used comes from “benefit funds,” not a single department, and is administered on behalf of OSU by the Office of Human Resources, according to OSU spokesman Gary Lewis.
Jonathan Nutt, assistant director and policy coordinator of OSU’s Student Wellness Center, said the new policy is fundamentally meant to be a way to help students, faculty, staff and visitors who want to quit smoking.
“There’s a lot of evidence out there that suggests quitting as a group helps and also setting dates and just making sure that you build that sort of support structure around someone who wants to quit tobacco. So there’s kind of the idea of, well, maybe Ohio State can quit tobacco together,” Nutt said in an interview with The Lantern Jan. 16.
Shields said he can see the tobacco policy becoming “part of (OSU’s) culture” in the future and wants the policy to reach high schoolers.
“(Smoking is) really an adolescent disease. I mean, most times people start smoking (at) 11 years old, 12 years old, 14 years old, 15 years old, but it takes years to get really addicted and it’s during the college years that really some people get cemented (in),” Shields said. “If we cut that off before (students) come here, if they know that they’re going to apply to OSU, they can’t be smoking in high school, we’re hoping for this trickle down effect.”