OSU is going to be tobacco free on July 1, 2008. “[T]obacco use, including smokeless tobacco, will be prohibited with the exception of a handful of outdoor areas, which will be identified as designated tobacco-use areas. The university hopes to phase out those locations over time.” I applaud OSU for working to create a healthier campus environment. I’m sure it will be difficult for folks who have been smoking for a long time, but in the end, it will save them money and quite possibly their lives. “[OSU] will work to prepare the campus, community and visitors for this major initiative, as well as provide cessation programs and other support for those desiring to give up tobacco.
Following feedback from various campus groups and months of evaluation, OSU announced that it will become tobacco free on July 1, 2008.
“This is a significant step in creating a healthier environment for our students, employees and visitors,” said Interim OSU System CEO and President Marlene Strathe. “This change is in response to recommendations from students, faculty and staff, as well as input from our wellness and health experts.”
Strathe said that leading up to the July 1, 2008 date, the university will work to prepare the campus, community and visitors for this major initiative, as well as provide cessation programs and other support for those desiring to give up tobacco.
“Even though more and more businesses and public locations are creating smoke-free environments, we understand this will be a significant change for many and are prepared to provide any support we can,” said Strathe. “The focus of this initiative is educational. We want to become an even healthier university campus and we want to help those who want to become tobacco free.”
Smoking related illnesses continue to be the number one cause of preventable disease and disability, and the scientific evidence regarding the harmful effects of passive or secondhand smoke continues to grow. According to state health officials, smoking kills more than 6,000 Oklahomans every year. That is more than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murder and suicide combined.
Wes Glinsmann is the advocacy director for the Oklahoma Alliance on Health or Tobacco, a statewide alliance of more than 40 pro-health groups that includes the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.
He applauded OSU for “taking a bold move, showing the rest of our great state that the university cares not just about the educational well-being of its students, but about the health of all those associated with OSU.” Glinsmann said OSU’s “commitment to public health should be an example to other colleges and universities in Oklahoma, throughout the Big 12 and across the nation.”
During the 2006-2007 academic year, the Student Government Association, Staff Advisory Council and Faculty Council discussed and passed resolutions regarding OSU becoming tobacco free. A task force studied the issue, resolved differences between the various resolutions, and developed the final recommendation.
Today on the OSU campus, Oklahoma law prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any state building. Effective July 1, 2008, all tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, will be prohibited with the exception of a handful of outdoor areas, which will be identified as designated tobacco-use areas. The university hopes to phase out those locations over time.
The OSU Seretean Wellness Center was awarded $500,000 last year from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to decrease tobacco use among college students. That money will help fund educational and cessation efforts.
OSU, which is dedicated to being the healthiest campus in America, becomes the first Big 12 Conference school to announce plans to go tobacco free.
Elsewhere across the OSU System, the OSU Center for Health Sciences campus in Tulsa has been tobacco free since 1998, OSU-Tulsa is tobacco free except for three designated areas, OSU-Oklahoma City is addressing the issue and will announce its plans soon, and OSU-Okmulgee is evaluating its plans.