Boren hopes tobacco ban begins July 1
Aubrie Hill, The Oklahoma Daily
Whether OU will implement a smoking ban is no longer uncertain; the question is what that ban entails.
President David Boren aims for the policy to take effect July 1, he said in a press conference for student journalists Wednesday.
However, the proposal will not reach the OU Board of Regents by its December meeting, Boren said. He guessed it would be on the board’s January agenda and said he would release his recommendations to the public before that meeting.
In the meantime, the tobacco committee’s meetings will remain closed to the public, as will its recommendations to Boren.
“The tobacco committee is an advisory committee and just that — I don’t have to take their advice,” Boren said.
The committee is made up of five student leaders, three faculty, three staff and three administrators. Gary Raskob, College of Public Health dean and former smoker, serves as chairman.
Boren listed cleanup costs and aesthetics as reasons for the ban but said the university’s main concern is health. For that reason, the university will promote programs to help smokers quit in conjunction with the ban.
Boren said he cannot estimate how the cost of those programs will compare to the current cost of cigarette cleanup.
Because people cannot be expected to quit smoking immediately, the plan will most likely provide for designated smoking areas, Boren said. Those areas would be in safe locations and would be roofed.
Designated areas would prevent smokers from having to go to nearby neighborhoods or Campus Corner and concentrate their litter there, Boren said. They also would accommodate Native Americans who smoke ceremoniously.
How to enforce the ban — and what to do on game days — is to be determined. The university does little to police the 25-feet-from-buildings law, Boren said.
Five hundred universities in the United States already have implemented smoking bans, including Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and OU’s own Health Sciences Center. OU will look at the policies of those institutions in modeling its own, Boren said.
Proposed smoking ban
Background: President David Boren announced in September that he would form a committee to explore the implementation of a campus tobacco policy.
What’s new: Boren said July 1 is the targeted date to launch an on-campus tobacco ban. The advisory committee’s role is to determine the extent of the policy.
What’s next: The committee will continue to meet and will submit recommendations to Boren. A final policy will most likely be submitted to the OU Board of Regents in January.
AT A GLANCE
Health effects from smoking
• Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
• Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of stroke by two to four times.
• The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States.
• More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention