Becoming a smoke-free campus is in line with the Oregon State Strategic Plan and is a demonstration of a commitment to creating a healthy environment for learning. In surveys of other colleges and universities who have established a smoke-free policy, there has not been a decline in student enrollment or applicants seeking employment.
As of 2012, there are 648 colleges and universities across the nation that are either smoke or tobacco free. Lisa Hoogesteger, chair of the Smoke Free Review Task Force, said the 18-month roll-out is allowing the university to learn from the best practices of universities who have already successfully become smoke-free.
It will also give the university a chance to determine enforcement, and to work with the City of Corvallis to establish boundaries for the campus and discuss how the initiative might affect the university’s most immediate neighbors. A number of task forces, including ones involving community members, have been working throughout the school year to prepare for the roll out of the plan.
“This is all about focusing on the health of our campus,” Hoogesteger said. “The latest Surgeon’s General Report indicates that there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke. And for people with respiratory illnesses like asthma, the smallest amount of smoke may trigger an adverse reaction.”
Currently, the amount of regular smokers on campus is relatively small. An American College Health Association assessment in Spring 2010 determined that 70.3 percent of all OSU students have never smoked a cigarette, and only 2.6 percent of OSU students smoke daily. Breaking out the numbers for international students only, 61 percent have never smoked, and 4.9 percent smoke daily.
In Benton County, the rate of smoking for adults over the age of 18 is 10.8 percent, nearly half the national average of 20 percent. Corvallis is already known for its smoke-free policies. It was the first city in Oregon to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in 1998, and in 2006 banned smoking from city parks.
The smoke-free campus decision has been several years in the making, and originated with a student group called the “Fresh Air Initiative” which conducted a campus-wide survey in 2008 regarding smoking on campus. At that time, 73 percent of those surveyed indicated they would like a smoke-free campus.
In 2009, a task force spent a year determining the feasibility of OSU becoming a smoke-free campus, and met with groups including students, classified staff and faculty to gauge campus interest and readiness to become smoke free. In June 2010 they submitted a report to the President recommending the move to a smoke-free campus.
Several work groups have been meeting throughout the school year to prepare for the September roll-out. Many efforts have been made to reach out to the entire campus, with targeted efforts toward the international community and at sporting events. The outlying Corvallis community has also been involved in outreach efforts.
Current campus policies state that smokers must be at least 10-feet away from building entrances. Under the new policy, smokers will have to leave campus in order to smoke. There will be no designated smoking areas like on-campus smoking shelters, because they increase the exposure to second-hand smoke among those gathered, they make enforcement more difficult because they present a mixed message about smoking on campus, and the cost per shelter of $12,000 to $14,000 is prohibitive.
Additionally, Hoogesteger said peer institutions that originally put shelters on campus are now removing them and are recommending that other campuses not use them, for the reasons cited above.
Smoking receptacles will be placed around the perimeter of campus for people to discard of their smoking-related trash. Failure to discard cigarette butts into a proper receptacle is considered littering and carries a fine.
Additionally, mailers to local businesses and residents will also be sent out by July 2012 informing recipients about the upcoming policy and how to contact OSU regarding any smoking-related problems that may arise from off-campus smoking. Community forums will follow and be held beginning August 2012 for informing the community about the policy and address any concerns or questions.
For more information: http://oregonstate.edu/smokefree/
READY TO QUIT USING TOBACCO?
OSU Students: Access free tobacco cessation counseling, and receive nicotine gum and patches at no cost at Student Health Services.
OSU Faculty and Staff: If covered by OSU’s PEBB benefits, the State of Oregon requires insurance companies to cover at least $500 in tobacco cessation.
Affiliates and Campus Visitors: Contact the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
For more information, background, FAQs and resources, go to oregonstate.edu/smokefree
~ Theresa Hogue