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Ohio State University Police will not enforce smoking ban


Ohio State University Police officers will not be involved in the enforcement of OSU’s tobacco ban and will not issue citations, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said.

Additionally, a human resources memo from August states explicitly that, concerning tobacco violations, “Ohio State Police will not respond to calls, as policy enforcement is not their role.”

Set to take effect in January 2014, the ban is a matter of policy, not law, and infractions will be dealt with by OSU Human Resources and the Student Conduct Board, Lewis said.

Several people involved in the implementation of the plan, however, have said the policy is more bark than bite.

Roger Crawfis, associate professor of computer science and engineering and member of Faculty Council, which is made up of about 70 members representing faculty from the 18 OSU colleges, the University Libraries, the Military Sciences and the regional campuses, according to the University Senate website, told those in attendance at a Thursday meeting the implementation discussions which took place during the spring determined OSU does not intend to crack down on tobacco use.

“There really won’t be enforcement,” Crawfis said at the meeting. “It’s more just peer pressure to help people who want to quit, quit. So it’s more just a psychological warfare.”

Faculty Council Chair Leslie Alexander confirmed that to the group Thursday, and said while the implementation committee will set up a complaint system, the university does not appear to have a plan of responding to complaints.

The university-wide ban on tobacco was approved by the Board of Trustees in April, and was initially supposed to go into effect Aug. 1. That was later pushed back to January to allow for more thorough education of the policy, Lewis told The Lantern at the beginning of August.

Sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct stipulate that students receive hearings after a reported violation, with punishments ranging from letters of reprimand, which are written letters issued because of a student’s misconduct, to dismissal.

Despite the complexity, Lewis said sanctions can and will be filed for repeat violators, adding that three employees at the Wexner Medical Center have been terminated for repeated violations of the tobacco ban.

Ohio State banned tobacco use on the Medical Center premises in 2006.

Lewis said the university’s priority right now is communicating the policy and making sure departments and supervisors put pressure on their constituents.

Trey Schroeder, a third-year in computer science, is a smoker and said the university’s enforcement plan will not stop people from smoking on campus.

“I have seen no less smoking on campus since these discussions started, and the people who live in dorms and do smoke aren’t going to just magically quit,” he said. “If anything, you’re just forcing them to walk off campus to smoke, which first of all, they’re not going to do.”

Schroeder said he thinks there are better ways to get people to stop smoking in certain areas.

“A more effective solution would be to make designated smoking areas. I understand the point of the policy, but in practicality, people do smoke cigarettes, and people who are addicted aren’t going to quit just because the school wants them to,” he said. “I smoke, and I don’t really mind the policy, but I just don’t think it will be effective. It just seems like something they’re doing so they can say ‘we have a tobacco-free campus’ even though they know it’s not going to work.”

Mirko Mandic, a fourth-year in strategic communication, quit smoking about a year ago. He said the university should focus on providing smoking cessation resources if they genuinely care about students’ health.

“I believe they’re just trying to do this for show, and they’re not actually putting the resources into it. Smoking isn’t the kind of thing that you just decide to quit and it’s that easy,” he said. “If they want students to stop smoking, they need to provide them with the resources to do that.”

Other students said the lack of police enforcement will make the ban difficult to implement.

“I don’t think it sounds very effective at all. It seems like there’s a completely unnecessary amount of red tape behind it. It would be a very winding road to get through that process, and for an offense as minor as smoking, it doesn’t seem necessary at all,” said Matt Love, a first-year in mechanical engineering.

Nick Gulish, a first-year in engineering, expressed similar sentiments.

“If campus police can’t do anything, that basically negates the point of the ban. If they have to go out and do a bunch of extra stuff to enforce it, it will make it ineffective,” he said.


  1. Tim O'Donoghue (PhD OSU '91)

    The ban, introduced on March 29 2004, made Ireland the first country in world to completely ban smoking in all workplaces. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that Ireland’s smoke-free air law has had no negative economic impact. Study results released in April 2013 indicated that the law had prevented an estimated 3,700 deaths from population of 3.6 million.Ireland’s smoke-free workplace law enjoys over 93% public support, including 80% of smokers, a 97% compliance rate, and a 33% reduction in the smoking prevalence rate. In addition, pub and restaurant workers report being 40% healthier since the law went into effect. Success helped through provision of smoking areas, particularly in pubs, but such areas must meet specific criteria..

  2. This new policy just lost its teeth. Now the only way to diminish tobacco use is rigorous programming and help sessions.

    Those who resist: enjoy your shortened life soon to be plagued by early onset of heart and lung disease, higher blood pressure, and cancer. And enjoy the considerably less amount of money in your wallet.

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  5. Awesome, no enforcement then Ill keep smoking. Its my choice and guarantee I’m still in way better shape than the average american. Solely being a smoker does not mean living an unhealthy lifestyle. Show me a study that proves 100% causality of lung cancer from second hand smoke identical to those found in smokers. It’s easy to blame things we can physically see and perceive to be unhealthy, but other factors like having a genetic predisposition towards the disease seem to be dismissed.

  6. My problem is not with the ban, it is with the definition of the word tobacco:

    Tobacco is defined as all tobacco-derived or containing products, including and not limited to, cigarettes (e.g., clove, bidis, kreteks), electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes, and oral tobacco (e.g., spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff) and nasal tobacco (e.g. snus). It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products, contain tobacco flavoring, or deliver nicotine other than for the purpose of cessation.

    That is the word for word from the policy.

    I have smoked for 10 years. Recently, I have switched to a propylene glycol electronic vaporizer. There have been no studies that have found any of the health related issues connected to these. In fact, many countries have embraced them as a healthy alternative to smoking tobacco and the most effective way to quit smoking. I tend to agree. But under this definition of tobacco, my vaporizer is an “electronic cigarette”. And, under this verbiage, candy cigarettes are tobacco. This is ludicrous. This is lazy policy making and skates on the wrong side of morality for a public university.

  7. What a waste of time, just put designated areas…lord what a bunch of overpaid idiots!!

  8. As a smoker and third year OSU student, I have always exercised my right to have a cigarette on campus while being respectful towards others and their space. I do it away from sidewalks and buildings, so that the smoke doesn’t cause a disturbance. This is college; many of us are dealing with anxiety, stress, and other burdens that make us want to have an occasional cigarette. I hope to quit in the future, but for now I’d rather not be discriminated against for my personal preferences. When I do quit, it’s not going to be the result of the Ohio State administration trying to be my mother. I agree with many others who have said this seems to be more of a publicity stunt than anything.

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