Boren hopes to make OU smoke-free by spring 2012 semester
Smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em Sooners — cigarettes on campus could soon be a thing of the past.
OU President David Boren hopes to have a campus-wide ban on tobacco use in place by the spring semester, he said Monday during his State of the University address to the Faculty Senate.
Boren cited the adverse health effects of smoking, cigarette litter on campus and the cost of cigarette butt cleanup as justifications for his decision.
“Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States,” Boren said. “When you combine that with the amount of littered cigarette butts I’ve seen around our campus and the cost we’re paying to clean them up during a budget crunch, I believe this ban simply makes sense for the university community.”
Boren said he will form a committee comprised of faculty and student representatives tasked with researching and drafting the ban’s legislation.
Because discussion of the ban has only recently begun, information is not presently available on the nature of the committee’s research, when members will be chosen or exactly how students, faculty and staff can participate, university spokesman Michael Nash said.
“This is something that has come up from other faculty members from seeing butts and other issues in literally the last few days,” Nash said.
Fines, designated smoking areas and meeting the deadline will be addressed once the committee is formed, Nash said.
Boren said the financial impact of smoking on campus at a time when state appropriations are decreasing was made clear in an email sent by university Landscape Director Allen King.
“Cigarette cleanup and litter control cost the Landscape Departments budget $165,000 last year; $45,000 of that total was directly related to the cleanup of discarded cigarettes and emptying ashtrays,” King said in the email.
In addition to cleanup charges, Facilities Management must spend money repairing the damage done to university property, King said.
“Currently there are 900 trash receptacles on campus and of that number approximately 100 need to be cleaned each year due to smoking for a cost of $12,000,” King said. “Also benches are being used to extinguish cigarettes. The average cost to clean a bench is three man hours or $90 per bench.”
King said he has noticed an increase in improperly discarded cigarette butts in recent years.
“We’ve tried to compensate by putting out more ashtrays, but it seems there’s a small percentage that either don’t want to use them or expect us to be the ones to clean up after them,” King said.
Monday’s Senate meeting was not the first time the university has addressed the issue of restrictions or a ban on campus smoking.
In April 2009, a campus-wide UOSA referendum that advocated for a smoking ban was approved by 49 percent of the student body, according to Daily archives.
In March 2010, Student Congress passed a resolution encouraging Boren to restrict smoking on the Norman campus.
Regardless of the failures of previous smoking bans, Boren said the time has now come from a financial and health perspective to pursue an end to tobacco use on campus.
He summed up his feelings on the matter by asking a single question.
“My goodness, what are we doing to the health and well-being of the people in our community?” Boren asked.