Tobacco Advisory Committee broaches smoking ban at first meeting
President David Boren’s newly formed Tobacco Advisory Committee met Thursday afternoon for its first and only open meeting to discuss the campuswide smoking ban.
The committee, which consists of students, faculty and staff, was formed by Boren earlier this month to determine the best way to implement a smoking ban at OU.
The committee members also will debate if a ban on all tobacco products or just smoking is the best decision for the OU community.
No matter what the committee members decide, they also will make recommendations for how far the ban will reach and what will happen if the ban is violated.
At the meeting, Boren reiterated his reasons for the ban — health costs and the costs associated with litter and damage.
“The concern really starts with the concern for our colleagues and friends and members of our community from the point of view on the impact on health that continued use of tobacco causes,” Boren said.
College of Public Health dean Gary Raskob spoke about the risks smoking in public places, such as the impact on cardiovascular health.
“[There is] very strong evidence that there is a relationship between these policies and heart attack rates,” Raskob said.
After health concerns, the committee discussed the financial burdens smoking puts on university cleanup.
Trash-can damage by cigarette butts is costly, said Allen King, director of landscaping. It costs $1,200 per year to repair and repaint trash cans across campus, King said.
Benches are expensive to repair, too, at $90 each, he said.
Boren and a small group picked up litter across campus on Tuesday — mostly cigarette butts concentrate around benches where a trashcan wasn’t more than 20 feet away, Boren said.
The president said litter alone can cost $150,000 a year, but another factor is health care costs.
“One of the things that shocked me, for example, was that the average smoker has $1,800 a year more, on average, in health care costs than the average non-smoker,” Boren said.
In addition to the expenses Boren cited, he and the committee agreed if this ban is passed, it will make smoking inconvenient for faculty, staff and students, and they have an obligation to provide resources to kick the habit.
“These are not easy addictions to break, so one of the things we have is something called Healthy Sooners, and they give out quick kits, aids to help stop smoking,” Boren said.
Human Resources director Julius Hilburn added that Blue Cross and Blue Shield, an insurer of many university employees, offers multiple approaches to quitting smoking, including acupuncture and hypnosis.
The committee members said they understood some members of the OU community will still smoke.
In meetings during the next few months, the committee will discuss:
• if the ban should include more than just smoking;
• if there will be designated smoking areas;
• and what will be the punishment for violating the smoking ban.
No future meeting has been set yet, Raskob said.
Meet the tobacco advisory committee
Here are the members of the tobacco advisory committee. The committee also will receive support from OU’s legal counsel, Anil Gollahalli; Student Affairs Vice President and dean of students Clarke Stroud, and Facilities Management Director Brian Ellis.
• UOSA President Hannah Morris
• UOSA Vice President Laura Bock
• CAC chairwoman Melissa Mock
• Student Congress chairwoman Alyssa Loveless
• Graduate Student Senate chairman Derrell Cox
• Political science professor Michael Givel
• Former Faculty Senate chairwoman Cecilia Brown
• Political science professor Hank Jenkins-Smith
• Custodial supervisor Matthew Rom
• Housing and Food Services general manager April Buchanan-Sandlin
• Staff Senate chairman-elect Chris Cook
• Administrative Affairs Vice President Nick Hathaway
• Human Resources Director Julius Hilburn
• College of Public Health dean Gary Raskob*
*Raskob will serve as chairman of the group