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Ohio State moves toward tobacco-free campus

Justine Boggs / Lantern photographer

Smoke breaks at Ohio State might require students and faculty to go off campus come Fall Semester.
Ohio State is considering a tobacco ban on the entire campus including tobacco chew, snuff and snus – which is a “spitless” moist powder tobacco pouch, according to the American Cancer Society.
During a Monday interview with The Lantern editorial board, OSU President E. Gordon Gee discussed the initiative.
“We are recommending that we move to a tobacco-free campus, I think that’s very important,” Gee said. “We have a tobacco-free medical center and now we want to have a tobacco-free campus.”
The challenge will be how to implement the rule, Gee said, however he didn’t touch on specific methods.
Miami University (Ohio) is currently smoke-free and has incentives for people to quit smoking, said Claire Wagner, director of Miami University news and communication. The university has banned smoking since 2008.
“We do a reduction in an employee’s premium if you are smoke-free,” Wagner said. “It’s all to promote health … bad habits cause greatly to the cost of health care.”
Employees can receive $15 off their monthly health insurance premiums if they prove they are smoke-free, Wagner said.
She said Miami is looking to add a complete tobacco ban to the campus, though regulation of such a ban is a concern.
“It is not easy to enforce (the smoking ban) at this point,” she said.
Enforcing the ban has also been a question on OSU’s campus, and it has been discussed with the Undergraduate Student Government.
USG President Taylor Stepp said he would be opposed to the smoking ban if it required pulling public safety officers away from their normal duties of keeping students safe. He said student safety is more of a priority than enforcing a tobacco ban.
“My biggest point, if you want to pass this ban that’s fine, but we’re not going to use any dollars from public safety to enforce this,” Stepp said. “Because those dollars need to be used to keep students safe.”
Cole Harrison, a graduate student in cognitive ethnomusicology, said he wonders how OSU will enforce the ban and believes it will be ineffective.
“They can go tobacco-free, people are going to find ways to administer nicotine to themselves,” he said, while holding a cigarette. “It’s a drug that is part of our culture and it’s not going anywhere.”
He said having a tobacco ban could feel like an infringement on his rights.
“If someone was walking next to me and said, ‘Oh I have asthma, can you put that out?’ Of course, I have no problem with that,” he said. “But just to comply with an arbitrary law? No, I would feel my liberty was being curtailed.”
OSU’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to review an appeal to revise the university’s smoke-free policy this April after the tobacco-free ban received unanimous support from the Ohio Board of Regents last July.
As early as 1987 the OSU campus had a restriction on smoking in buildings, and in 2006 the ban extended to outside the Wexner Medical Center. Gee told The Lantern Monday that he wants the tobacco ban to be campus-wide by Aug. 1.
Gee said the change is part of a goal to make OSU the healthiest campus in the country.
If the ban passes, OSU would join 766 tobacco-free campuses across the United States.  

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