Home Politics Put down the tobacco: OU is going cold turkey

Put down the tobacco: OU is going cold turkey

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Anyone looking to smoke on the Ohio University campus will soon find their options extinguished.

With a campus-wide tobacco ban beginning this fall, students will have to leave the campus entirely if they want to smoke. According to Catherine Lee, the Tobacco-Free Campus coordinator, both students and staff will be held responsible for smoking.

“For staff and students, the first incident won’t have any kind of punishments,” Lee said. “A warning and a conversation about quitting with a supervisor, maybe. If a hall adviser or supervisor sees someone persisting, then that’s when some consequences might occur through the university or the HR policies.”

OU isn’t the first school to put a ban in place. Following a 2012 Ohio Board of Regents recommendation that college campuses become tobacco free, schools including Ohio State University, Miami University of Ohio and Hocking College have banned tobacco from their campuses.

Yet, the ban might be farther-reaching than expect as it includes e-cigarettes and hookah, and people won’t even be allowed to smoke in private cars parked on university property once the ban begins.

Lee said the ban probably won’t bring smoking to an immediate halt on campus but will rather drop the rate of smokers an estimated 10 percent.

“It’s important to be realistic about the numbers, but any reduction is a success,” Lee said. “It’s a community-wide effort. If everyone is willing to do their part, though, I think it will be an even greater success.”

For some smokers on campus, the ban may speed up their plans to quit. Sam Ashton, a freshman studying media arts and studies, is one such student.

Ashton has been a smoker for about two years and plans to quit after his 20th birthday in December. However, when the new ban comes into play next fall, he isn’t sure how everything will play out.

“I’m not sure how heavily they’ll enforce it when they don’t even enforce how far you’re supposed to be from the building right now,” Ashton said. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to try and smoke. I’m not going to make it a mission to walk off campus.”

He admires both the campus and national campaigns to try to get people to stop smoking, but he’s not sure how effective they are. Ashton brought up the recent campaign that talks about “swiping left” on people who are smoking in their Tinder profiles, calling it “random” and “silly.”

Even with the attention the issue has gotten for years, Ashton is unsure he’s going to be able to stop smoking just because of the tobacco ban.

“A lot of my friends here smoke, so I guess we’re all bad influences on each other,” Ashton said. “Sometimes we’ll take long breaks from smoking, like a couple weeks, just to see that we can. The thing is that it’s just kind of hard to stop—you can’t get someone to stop smoking just by telling them to not do it.”

That’s why Ann Addington, the assistant director of health promotions for the university, is teaching tobacco cessation classes for those interested in quitting.

The classes, which Ashton said he had not looked into, begin this month in an effort to help students kick the habit.

According to Addington, the classes are designed around the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program and are more than just sitting around and being lectured about bad habits.

“It’s a four-week class, and everyone starts with a workbook,” Addington said. “We meet for about an hour every week and we go through each of the four chapters. We try to help everyone pick a date to quit and we walk through the stages of change and the motivators to quit.”

In past years, students have been eligible for two weeks of Nicotine Replacement Therapy once completing the program. The therapy includes nicotine patches, lozenges or nicotine gum, depending on the person’s preference.

This year, a grant from the university expanded the therapy to be three months long, the minimally recommended amount of time doctors say people should be on it, but there still might not be enough funding for the program.

“There’s about 20 people signed up for the classes right now,” Addington said. “I have funding for 10. However, I will find additional funding if more than 10 [want to] complete the program. Often what happens is that students sign up, but they’ll get to the first class and realize they’re not ready to do it.”

While the therapy and the classes will be a great starting point, Addington says the average person takes about seven to eight times to permanently quit smoking. As a former smoker herself, Addington is the perfect person to help students quit because she says she understands the struggles someone might go through.

“During my classes, I share my story of quitting,” Addington said. “I smoked for a good 15 years. I can remember smoking, so I can share that story. I think it builds up trust with the message that there is life after nicotine. My life got so much better, and I want our Bobcats to have that too.”

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