OU Board of Regents snuff out tobacco use on campus
The days of unrestricted tobacco use on OU’s Norman campus are officially numbered after the OU Board of Regents voted unanimously Tuesday to implement a ban this summer.
The campuswide Tobacco-Free Policy was approved as an addition to the Regents’ Policy Manual and designated two areas on campus as acceptable smoking areas while enacting fines for repeat offenders.
The policy is set to take effect July 1.
OU President David Boren proposed the ban to the regents in the Robert M. Bird Library Auditorium on the OU Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City, and during an address before the vote, he said university administrators felt morally obligated to enact it.
“We want to join the leadership of other universities who have chosen to enact these policies,” Boren said.
During his remarks, Boren invited Gary Raskob, College of Public Health Dean and chairman of an advisory tobacco committee who helped Boren formulate the policy, to address the regents as well.
Raskob believed the final recommendations took into effect student, faculty and staff feedback while positively impacting campuswide health, he said.
“The proposal strikes a balance between protecting people from second-hand smoke, while acknowledging the difficulty of quitting,” Raskob said.
Boren is optimistic the policy will overcome difficulties encountered when enforcing a statewide ban already in place, restricting smoking within 25 feet of building entrances, he said.
“I think [we encountered difficulties] because we had no set policy and never publicized a program to help people quit smoking,” Boren said. “We’ve had a program, but it hasn’t been highly advertised.”
OU Police Department officers will be tasked with enforcing the new policy, Boren said.
OUPD officials have been in contact with university administrators regarding enforcement, but the department declined to comment as of press time, OUPD Lt. Bruce Chan said.
“The Chief of the OUPD does communicate with the senior administration of the University; however, it is not appropriate for us to comment on the content of that communication,” Chan said.
After the regents’ meeting adjourned, Boren said it is not OU administrators’ place to tell people they cannot smoke at all, but they are authorized to restrict smoking on campus.
“We’re not saying people can’t smoke,” Boren said. “They can go home and smoke, they can smoke in their cars, so I don’t think we’re stopping the liberty of people to smoke.”