Smoker Kayla Dowler says she wouldn't have a problem if Washington State Community College banned tobacco use on its campus. Non-smoker Connie Waggoner doesn't think it would be fair.
The chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents recently said he planned to introduce a resolution at the group's next meeting urging the state's public colleges and universities not to allow tobacco on their campuses. But the resolution is not binding, and it would be up to individual institutions' whether to follow through.
Washington State currently allows smoking only in designated areas, and Waggoner, a 43-year-old student from Beverly, thinks that works fine.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Student Kayla Dowler of Beverly smokes Tuesday afternoon on the campus of Washington State Community College.
"Some people spend eight to 10 hours a day here, so if they're a smoker, they should have a place to go," she said.
Dowler, a 22-year-old Beverly resident preparing to graduate Saturday, said she's trying to quit smoking, so the policy would have helped her.
"I wouldn't mind if they banned it; that way I wouldn't have the option," she said.
The chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents plans to introduce a resolution urging public colleges and universities to ban tobacco use on their campuses.
It would be up to each school's board of trustees whether to institute such a ban. There would be no penalty for not doing so.
The Cleveland Clinic's chief executive told the board at its last meeting that 37 percent of college students who smoke start after they enroll.
Source: The Associated Press.
According to The Associated Press, the board of regents heard a presentation last month from Dr. Toby Cosgrove, chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic, encouraging them to support a ban. He said 20 percent of people in the United States continue to smoke and 37 percent of college students who smoke start after they enroll.
Board of regents spokeswoman Kim Norris said the board's discussion at its last meeting indicated an interest in both protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke and discouraging students from starting to smoke.
The measure is supported by the board's chairman, Toledo attorney James Tuschman, and Chancellor Jim Petro. Washington State has not taken a position, said Claudia Owens, executive director of marketing and public relations for the school.
"Before Washington State Community College would consider any change in the current smoking policy, the entire campus, through focus groups, would be involved in determining any changes or revisions," she said.
Currently, smoking is permitted only in parking lots and four designated outdoor spaces. All other forms of tobacco are prohibited.
Washington State Board of Trustees Chairman Ken Schilling said Tuesday that he would want to see what the school's administration had to say about the proposal.
"I typically support a tobacco-free workplace," he said, noting the Washington Electric Cooperative where he is general manager and CEO is one.
"I think it's key that it be outside the facility," Schilling said. "The point is, is somebody as a smoker infringing on someone's rights? That's a stretch if they're not in a building and (they are) 'x' number of feet from a doorway."
Several non-smoking students on Washington State's campus Tuesday said they didn't have much opinion one way or the other on a total ban on tobacco.
Jen Folts, 19, of Marietta, said people on campus generally abide by the designated smoking areas, although she occasionally encounters people smoking near the entrances of buildings. But as long as they aren't exposing non-smokers to secondhand smoke, she said she doesn't mind people lighting up in the designated areas, adding she knows some smokers who get headaches if they can't smoke for an extended period of time.
"It's like keeping them from being able to focus on what they need to," she said.
Beverly resident Ray Cloninger, a 68-year-old Air Force retiree who takes classes on the campus, said the school should "do away with" smoking on campus.
"It's just like the military. You can't smoke most places on base," he said.
Marietta resident Janet Harkness, 43, a Washington State student and smoker, said a ban wouldn't stop people from smoking on campus anyway.
"I'm telling you straight out, people will still smoke," she said.
One member of the Ohio Board of Regents said in the AP story that some college officials expressed concern that an outright ban on smoking could affect their enrollment. But a spokeswoman for Miami University in Oxford, which instituted a campus-wide smoke-free policy in 2008, said it has not been detrimental there, noting people who want to smoke do so in their cars or walk off campus.
Washington State student Tommie Schreffler, 24, of Belpre said he knows smoking is a bad habit, but he'd rather the school keep its current policy than enact a total ban.
"I don't know what I'd be able to do if I couldn't smoke on campus," he laughed, saying it helps relieve stress from work and school. "I'd still take classes here. I'd just be a little more annoyed than usual."
Stephanie Davis, director of the Washington County Tobacco Prevention Program, said she supports a ban on college campuses, but thinks it should be instituted gradually, to be fair to smokers.
"It's a very positive change, but I think it's a change that takes planning," she said.
That could include offering cessation programs to smokers, Davis said.
Davis said she believes Washington State does a good job of providing areas for smokers away from other people. However, she said a total ban would follow with the changing cultural norm of smoking not being nearly as common today as it was in the 1950s.