OSU to be tobacco free

quit smoking or be very cold in the winter...

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.

Miami University is also going smoke free!

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.

21 thoughts on “OSU to be tobacco free”

  1. I am well aware that Oregon State is not the only OSU… but given the circumstances, I had no reason to think of Oklahoma.

  2. It’s disappointing that concern for the civil liberties of minority groups is not extended to people who smoke. As you read any of the anti-smoking material, for the words “smokers” substiture “Jews”, “Gays”, “Native Americans”, “Blacks”, “Women”, “People with disabilities”, etc. I wonder if you then would approve of the treatment that group is receiving. There are startling parallels between the anti-smoking crusade and the treatment of minorities in Nazi Germany: public degradation, isolate the group, confine them to small public places, label them as the cause of society’s ills… Now it’s smokers. Who’s next?

  3. Actually, I don’t like this move, even though I’m not a smoker. Here at Oregon State we already don’t let anyone smoke indoors – which I think is great. Nonsmokers have much reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, unless they choose to hang out with smoking groups outdoors. But what’s wrong with people smoking outside? Yes, smoking is a health hazard to those who do it, but as long as they’re not clustered right around the enterance to a building where it could bother others, what’s the problem?

    I am reminded of a parallel – Monmouth, until only a few years ago, allowed no alcohol within their city limits. This came from the founding of the town, where people thought that banning alcohol would actually reduce its consumption. This was ridiculous, as people just went to the nearest town to buy their alcohol. Lesson: under most circumstances, people are going to stop a potentially harmful behavior because they want to, not becasue they’re forced to.

    So why are campuses trying to force smokers to quit? What is the purpose of it?

  4. I actually have a lot of ambivalence about this decision. On the one hand, I care a lot for the right of individuals who chose not to smoke to traverse freely and to not have to inhale secondhand smoke. On the other hand, as a (trying to quit) smoker, I also desire to smoke where I want to.

    And congratulations, Eric, it didn’t take this blog post long to fulfill Godwin’s Law.

    Tom, I see a huge difference between banning smoking in certain locations and banning certain types of people in certain locations. Certainly, there are parallels to be drawn, but I find the comparison of banning an action that harms others (smoking) to the banning of a type of person (Jews, queers, people of color) that is completely based on bigotry to be a disingenuous comparison. I’ll agree with you that smokers are negatively stigmatized, but it’s not due to the social creation of their class, but rather because of the harm their chosen activity causes to others.

  5. I’m trying to read beyond the insulting dismissiveness of your post, Michael. But to see your statements as ingenuous would require the acceptance of your premise that smoking always causes harm to others. I think that is an unwarranted assumption.

    I remain disappointed at the lack of concern for the rights of this sub group (among others), the insensitivity to the feelings of those individuals stereotyped within the group, and the apparent glee with which discriminatory practices are perpetrated.

    I don’t agree entirely but I think there’s some truth in this statement that I’ve heard many times: “Smokers are the only minority group that it’s safe to discriminate against and to hate.”

  6. Tom,

    Given your last comment, I’m to understand that you smoke crack, correct? Because it’s about the only explanation I can think of for what you wrote. Either that or it’s fantastic satire.

    Michael’s post does not seem dismissive to me at all – in fact, he took your comment far more seriously than I would have been inclined to. In fact, I have to admit that my first urge was to mock it endlessly.

    1. Inhaling smoke cause harm to one’s body. This is not an unwarranted assumption – there’s a lot of science to back it up, up to and including research on exposure to very small amounts of smoke. As with other things, people who choose not to participate have a decent claim to not having to feel the effects of others’ participation. To wit: I choose not to play paintball; I have a reasonable expectation not to get hit with paintballs.

    2. Smokers are not a minority group in the usual sense of the term – as Michael notes, smoking is a choice. Skin color is not. Identity is not. I think conflating the two is incredibly insulting.

    Does that mean I hate smokers? Hardly. I’m really more of a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin kind of guy. Really. Promise.

  7. Tom, my apologies for sounding insulting or dismissive in my previous comment. I did not mean to be so in regards to your ideas, but I suppose I was in regards to your comparisons to Nazism. To be honest, comparisons to Nazism are so abundant and made from so many ideological positions that such comparisons can’t really carry any persuasive weight at all, except with those who already agree with the argument or case.

    I am trying to see this issue from your perspective, trying to see smokers as a subordinate group that is oppressed, and I am having difficulty. This is partially because I have experiences being discriminated against as a queer man, but not as a smoker. I have been called slurs as i have innocently walked down streets, I have at times feared for my physical safety, and I feel like people have judged me as “less than human” — all because of my sexual and affectional feelings and my gender performance. However, I have never had a slur thrown at me because I smoke, I have never felt that my physical safety is in danger because I smoke, and I have never felt that someone was attacking my dignity — that I was somehow less than human because I smoke.

    And really, the only time that I can imagine fearing for my safety as a smoker is if I were in some place like Salt Lake City surrounded by violent straightedgers who beat up smokers and drinkers. But straightedgers hardly have institutional power (except for racially and gendered: they are generally white men).

    I think to make a further case in why I am having a difficult time understanding smoker as an identity group that is oppressed is because I don’t seem “smoker” as an identity in the same manner as others. Certainly, it is an identity: “I am a smoker,” I have often said. But today I could smoke my last cigarette (as I tried to do a few weeks ago) and suddenly I am no longer a smoker. One cannot do that with other identities which have oppression inscribed in them: one cannot simply quit an action and stop being queer, stop being a woman, stop being black, stop being a Jew or Muslim. So it seems to me that smoker is different from other identities on an ontological basis.

    I am more than willing to continue this discussion, and more than willing to listen to evidence you have that smokers are unfairly discriminated against.

  8. Dennis, my question for you is: If you don’t take Tom’s point seriously, how can you expect others to take your ideas seriously? Is there only a small fraction of ideas out there that we should respect as serious?

    I don’t see how deriding Tom’s perspective will either build common ground amongst us or help persuade either of you to a different position.

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