Oklahoma State University officials are considering a proposal to ban all tobacco products at the school.
Smoking is already banned with 25 feet of buildings on the Stillwater campus, but university leaders are looking for ways to promote health, slow down the rising cost of health insurance for workers and make OSU “America’s healthiest university.”
“I have no doubt that over time if we went to a tobacco-free campus, we’d have a healthier campus,” OSU President David Schmidly said.
However, he said such a ban would be difficult because tobacco use is legal and some people would regard a ban as an affront to personal freedoms.
One alternative could be designating smoking areas in less-trafficked areas of campus to protect nonsmokers from concerns about secondhand smoke, said Robin Purdie, director of the school’s wellness center.
Tyler Brown, a freshman smoker studying international business, said that’s a reasonable compromise.
“Until corporate America does something about cigarettes, I really don’t think they have the right to sell cigarettes to us and then tell us we can’t do it,” Brown said. “You can say we have the right to be unhealthy.”
Another student, Anna Rachael Jenson, said nonsmokers should have the right to be safe from secondhand smoke.
“I hate walking around campus and following someone who has a cigarette,” said Jenson, a junior studying early childhood education.
Earlier this year, OSU was awarded a $500,000 grant to help students and workers stop using tobacco products. About 36 percent of all OSU students have used a tobacco product in the past six months, Purdie said.
Purdie also is behind a proposal to require students to take a three-hour wellness course that is already being offered as an elective. Topics include sexual health, stress management, nutrition and exercise.
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