Ohio University Plans For A Tobacco-Free Campus

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The Athens campus of Ohio University will likely become a tobacco-free zone in the next few years, according to OU Vice President of Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi.

Last summer, the Ohio Board of Regents passed a resolution advocating for the establishment of tobacco-free college and university campuses at all of Ohio’s public institutions of higher education.

Since then, Ohio University has put together a task force to explore the possibility of banning tobacco on campus. This week, Lombardi confirmed that the task force has decided to implement such a ban.

However, Lombardi says there are a lot of details yet to be worked out regarding the new rule, which will be implemented over the next three years.

Lombardi said it’s likely that smoking and the use of other tobacco products will be banned campus-wide.

The ad-hoc tobacco-free task force worked for a year conducting surveys and gathering input from the university campus.

Of 2,222 people surveyed, 65 percent said they supported a ban on tobacco on the Athens campus. Just over half (51 percent) said they were concerned about exposure to second hand smoke on campus, and 18 percent of those surveyed said they use tobacco.

According to Lombardi, some of the details that still need to be worked out before full implementation begins include how the ban will be enforced and what kinds of tobacco cessation will be offered by the university.

Lombardi said different universities around the state are taking different approaches to the banning tobacco. He said Miami University has taken a strict approach to its ban, including the possibility of termination of employees or suspension for students who break the rules. Lombardi said Ohio State University is taking a softer approach.

While the task force — which is comprised of OU employees, administrators, students and some Athens representatives — has decided to make OU tobacco free, Lombardi said there will be additional public forums and input sought on the issue regarding implementation. He said the university wants to make the tobacco ban as painless as possible for those involved.

Lombardi will present information about the tobacco ban to the OU Board of Trustees at the board’s retreat at Columbus State Community College in Columbus next week. However, the ban does not have to be approved by the trustees.