Campus initiative clears the air, receives mixed reviews
The Healthy Campus Initiatives’ smoking ban on campus was put into place at OSU this year
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 02:10
Several things seem to have disappeared from campus this year. Ashtrays that had lined Oregon State University’s sidewalks, the occasional cigarette butt that had littered the ground and students smoking outside the Valley Library are now rare, if not altogether gone, after OSU’s new smoke-free policy took effect in September.
“All in all, the first six weeks of the program have gone well so far,” said Lisa Hoogesteger, Director of Healthy Campus Initiatives, in charge of the mechanics of the policy. “The majority of students already knew about the policy and respected it, which meant the communication and education about the policy before it was instated was really good.”
OSU’s smoke-free initiative was in the making for about four years before it was put into effect. In 2008, students concerned about the air quality and public health of the campus formed a team and began to research how other campuses across the country implemented smoke-free policies.
The team polled OSU students and staff on how they would feel about a smoke-free policy, and while experiencing some hostility toward it at first, they found opinions towards such a policy were predominately positive. In Feb. 2011, OSU President Ed Ray used their research to create the policy plan, and announced that in Sept. 2012 it would be put into effect.
With the program now in effect, the main focus is to continue to inform the community, including new students and athletic event visitors, install permanent signs announcing the policy around campus and to work on correcting some potential problem spots with the policy.
Of these, a fairly challenging area for the policy is at the International Living Learning Center. In many foreign countries, rates of smoking are much higher and in general smoking is looked upon with much more favor than in the United States. Consequently, stopping smoking around the ILLC will require more effort and transition time than elsewhere on campus.
Also, probably one of the largest problem areas for the policy is the concentration of students smoking on the edges of campus and littering the streets surrounding campus.
“I don’t really agree with the policy because now when I need to smoke I have to go to Monroe Street,” said OSU student Kengrae Lee. “A lot of people are here in not that large of an area, and fairly quickly, the area gets littered.”
To solve this, plans are being made to place trash cans as well as ash trays around the outside of campus. Also, trash pick-up will be increased to accommodate for the higher demand around the outside of campus.
Healthy Campus Initiative staff will communicate with businesses on the outside of campus to ensure they are not being bothered, and graduate student Adam Race, while working on his master’s in Public Health, patrols campus to discern other areas of the project to improve on.
Not all students who smoke, however, necessarily find having to head off campus too great of a problem.
“I smoke a little less in between classes, but it doesn’t really bother me,” said OSU student Andrew Shike. “It just means I’ll probably just smoke a little more afterwards, so it really doesn’t make much difference to me.”
Other students prefer smoking to be taken to the edge and outside of campus for cleaner air quality on campus, and therefore are highly supportive of the policy.
“I think it’s a good thing that OSU went smoke-free because walking behind people smoking or in front of the library in the years past when smoking was allowed was distracting and uncomfortable for me,” said senior Eric Wong. “There are other places to smoke other than campus.”
Regardless of the individual’s personal view on the policy, one thing that has greatly driven the policy forward has been how the OSU community has been willing to engage in an active dialogue and try new things to better campus.
“Ultimately, I love our campus and how much students are willing to participate in the community,” Hoogesteger said. “People here are willing to at least partially set aside their own personal objectives and ask the question, ‘How can we make things better here?’”
With this mindset, OSU will continue to develop the program with the goal of making it as beneficial as possible for all students and staff.
Ryan Dawes, news reporter