CSU officials approve smoking ban
New smoking policies to take effect sometime next year
Although the official details and dates have not been decided, smoking on campus will be banned sometime next year. Photo by Jordan Gonzalez
Finding a cigarette butt on Cleveland State University's campus may be a rare occurrence beginning September 2013.
The CSU Board of Trustees approved a policy on Nov. 7 that bans students, faculty and staff from using tobacco on university property starting next year. The ban extends to parking lots, walkways, university vehicles and any personal vehicle used to transport individuals on school-related business.
The tobacco ban follows a resolution passed by the Ohio Board of Regents this past summer that recommended all public two- and four-year universities in Ohio ban tobacco products on campus. CSU is the first university to act on the resolution.
The approved policy is a draft policy and it is subject to changes and revisions. Details such as consequences for violating the ban and the creation of a boundary map of university property still need to be developed, according to Joe Mosbrook, the director of strategic communications at CSU. A university task force composed of students, faculty and staff will be formed in the next few months to finalize the policy, but the process for how members will be elected to the task force has not yet been decided.
Individuals who are not on the task force will also be able to provide input, Mosbrook said. Students, faculty and staff will be able to voice their opinions and concerns at several public forums planned for the upcoming year.
Mosbrook called the tobacco ban an "inevitable path" and a decision that is necessary to make, especially as society learns more about the health risks associated with smoking.
"I think several universities will follow [CSU]," Mosbrook said. "I think this is a trend that will continue."
Approximately 20 percent of CSU students are smokers, along with 20 percent of faculty and staff members. A major concern leading up to the approval of a tobacco ban was if students were told they could not smoke on campus, they would choose to attend a different university.
"There was a lot of concern that students would go elsewhere if they couldn't smoke," said Dr. Henry Eisenberg, director of Health and Wellness Services at CSU. "But there's not really going to be any other place to go because this is going to be at all the universities, just as it is in all the restaurants."
Eisenberg said it has been a personal goal of his since joining CSU to reduce the number of smokers on campus, but his department lacked the necessary leadership to make such a ban a reality.
"We knew we had to have leadership from the Board of Trustees and from President [Ronald] Berkman," Eisenberg said. "We're really delighted that they've done this because it shows leadership."
Eisenberg said the timeframe of the ban allows time for people who are smokers to figure out what they are going to do when the ban goes into effect. Smoking cessation programs are in place and are offered through Health and Wellness Services, but few students have taken advantage of these programs. Eisenberg hopes students will think in advance about the tobacco ban and suggested students take a smoking cessation program during the summer months when they are not facing stress from classes.
The cessation programs are also open to CSU faculty and staff members. Eisenberg noted that the university offers insurance programs that help subsidize the cost, leading to little out-of-pocket expense.
With many of the details of the ban still up in the air, some students are undecided with their feelings toward banning tobacco use on campus.
"I think this is both a positive and a negative change," said Kira Sprosty, a Media and Film Design student at CSU. "It's positive because I'm sick of walking through 'smoker's alley' [outside Rhodes Tower], but I think creating designated spots for smoking is a better idea."
Desiree Gillespie, a graduate student studying Adult Learning and Development, shared similar thoughts as Sprosty. Gillespie thinks the ban could go either way, with some students finding it positive while others view it as a negative change. She also suggested the university develop certain areas on campus where students can go to smoke.
Although the policy is not yet finalized, Eisenberg hopes students will see the real purpose behind implementing the tobacco ban on campus.
"I would like to see more students realize that this is for their benefit," Eisenberg said. "It's not meant to be a punishment or a punitive program. It's meant to be sort of enlightened behavior - just like we have engaged learning - that a highly educated person should be making an informed choice."
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