CORVALLIS, Ore. – Beginning Sept. 1, Oregon State University will prohibit smoking on campus, in the health interests of the campus community.
A public forum will be held Aug. 15, 6 to 7 p.m., at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, to inform the community about the policy and address concerns or questions.
University staff members have studied other smoke-free universities for the past 18 months. At the beginning of this year, there were 648 colleges and universities in the United States that were either smoke or tobacco free.
The long period of study gave university staff the opportunity to determine enforcement strategies, establish boundaries for the campus, and discuss how the initiative might affect the university’s most immediate neighbors.
“The surgeon general and Centers for Disease Control have indicated that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke increase their heart disease and lung cancer risk by 20 to 30 percent,” said Stacey Edwards, project director of implementing the new policy. “Under the vision of its students, and campus-wide support from its students, faculty, and staff, OSU has taken actions to improve the health of its community.”
The number of regular smokers on campus is relatively small. An American College Health Association assessment in spring, 2010, found that 70.3 percent of all OSU students have never smoked a cigarette, and only 2.6 percent smoke daily. Among international students, 61 percent have never smoked, and 4.9 percent smoke daily.
In Benton County, 10.8 percent of adults smoke, compared to the national average of 20 percent. Corvallis, already known for its smoke-free policies, was the first city in Oregon to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in 1998, and in 2006 banned smoking in city parks.
The OSU decision originated with a student group called the “Fresh Air Initiative” which conducted a campus-wide survey in 2008, and found that 73 percent of those surveyed preferred a smoke-free campus.
In 2009, a task force met with students, classified staff and faculty to gauge campus interest and readiness to become smoke free, and later recommended the move to the OSU president. A 2010 survey by the Associated Students of OSU also found that a majority of OSU students favored prohibiting tobacco use on campus. Efforts have been made this summer to reach out to the entire campus, particularly the international community.
The policy is enforceable by the Department of Public Safety. Education and remediation will be the primary focus for those found in violation; however, in egregious cases, students will be held accountable under the student conduct code and employees under OSU employment policies.
Contractors, vendors, event attendees, those who rent or lease university property and other visitors to OSU will be subject to exclusion from campus if they refuse to comply with the new policy. Smoking receptacles will be placed around the perimeter of campus. Failure to discard cigarette butts into a proper receptacle is considered littering and carries a fine.
There will be no designated smoking areas on campus, because they increase the exposure to second-hand smoke among those gathered, present a mixed message about smoking on campus, and are counter to the effort to provide a healthy campus environment.
More information is available online at http://oregonstate.edu/smokefree/