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Ohio State Set To Enforce Tobacco-Free Campus

It’s been a little more than a year since the Ohio Board of Regents asked the state’s public colleges and universities to ban all tobacco use on campuses. Some, such as Ohio State, are in the process of doing so. Ohio State’s no tobacco use policy is already in effect. It started August 1st. But people continue using tobacco products on campus. Dr. Peter Shields, co-chair of the policy’s implementation committee, says the university needed time to publicize the ban.

“We decided because we needed time for awareness and signage and preparation that we wouldn’t actually do much publically until January 1st,â€? said Shields.

But August 13th there will be a very public presentation; a health and wellness rally for OSU faculty and staff. “At that rally we will take the advantage to formally say to everyone that we are now entering the awareness campaign and January 1st we expect that people will be following our new policy,â€? Shields said. Which means that all tobacco products – even products that mimic tobacco – will be banned from campus. According to the College Of Public Health’s Liz Klein officials want to set the standard of a “tobacco-freeâ€? environment at Ohio State. “I think the global view is really how do we promote being one of the healthiest campuses and I think it’s not allowing these products to be available within the campus environment,â€? Klein said. Other Ohio campuses, such as Miami University, are also implementing tobacco-free policies. Claire Wagner is a Miami spokeswoman…

“There may be challenges to enforcement and we know that. But this is now in the university’s handbook and so it will be treated as if somebody violated another university policy,â€? Wagner said.

And that means, said Wagner, verbal warnings for a first offense by an employee, written warnings for a second offense and then, for another violation, possible suspension for a day. Repeated violations by students might result in suspension from the university. Ohio State’s medical center has been smoke-free for about seven years. OSU’s Peter Shields says a few violators have faced severe penalties. "Over the years – since 2006 – a handful of people actually were dismissed from employment because of repeatedly violating the policy,â€? Shields said. The August 13th wellness rally is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ohio State’s Recreation and Physical Activity Center near Ohio Stadium.