UC joins smoke-free campuses

By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~

photo courtesy of citytowninfo.com | The University of Cincinnati voted not to allow smoking on any of its campuses. Xavier is one of the few schools left in the region without a similar ban in place.

The Board of Trustees for the University of Cincinnati (UC) voted unanimously to ban all forms of tobacco on all of their campuses on Aug. 24.

The ban is set to go into effect May 1, 2017.

All forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes, cigars and hookahs will be prohibited for students and faculty to use on the campus.

This ban is also in place for any visitors, vendors and contractors that may be present on UC’s campus.

The idea for the ban began in October 2015, when UC’s student government passed a tobacco-free campus resolution, as numerous students and faculty members had grown concerned about the increased health risks caused by smoking and secondhand smoke.

In late February of 2016, former UC President Santa Ono announced the formation of a committee to help move the tobacco free resolution forward.

“It’s a leadership move to help people understand that the importance of good healthy behavior and smoking tobacco products is certainly not one of them,” University spokesman Greg Vehr said.

“The new policy is in line with UC’s health-related research, teaching and patient care. This give us a particular obligation to be sensitive to health-protection issues,” UC’s field service assistant professor of human services Amanda Lynch said.

Employees on the campus could be subjected to termination or fined for violating the ban, and students who violate could be held accountable by the student code of conduct and state laws. Visitors could also be denied entry onto the campus and subjected to arrest for violating the policy.

“Hopefully, this will make UC a healthier and cleaner place for everyone,” Liz Aumann, UC benefits director and committee member said.

This movement has left several of Xavier’s students surprised that the campus has not proposed a similar movement as well.

Xavier University still allows outdoor smoking 15 feet or more from doors and windows and away from covered walkways.

“I think it’s a great thing that UC is going tobacco free,” junior Kate Frank said. “I’m surprised they’re doing it before us though, since they’re such a larger campus.”

“I think it’s really cool that UC is going tobacco free. I understand that it is an individual’s choice to smoke or use tobacco, but with all the information and research we now have and have had showing that it affects others who choose to be tobacco free, I think it’s a step in the right direction,” junior Mikhayla Walker said.

UC has a workforce of 16,000 people and had a record enrollment of 45,000 students this fall semester, making the movement significant.

The Ohio State University and Miami University also already have bans on tobacco, along with both Northern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky.

The Ohio Board of Regents that oversees policy for all state universities had also voted in 2012 to strongly recommend tobacco bans on campuses.

“I really think our campus should go tobacco free like a lot of other campuses across the country,” Frank said.

“It prevents those who choose not to smoke to be affected by the smoking of others.”

Junior Kinsey Krause agreed that a smoke ban would be beneficial.

“I think it would be better for the environment if we had a smoke-free campus and it would be healthier for people,” junior Kinsey Krause said.

“I think it would be smart for Xavier to have a similar rule. Tobacco free public areas aren’t that new, and I think it would encourage a healthier atmosphere on campus,” Walker said.

Not all Xavier students believe a movement like this would benefit the campus however, and some think it may even reduce the enrollment here.

“If a ban on tobacco did happen, people might not actually follow the rules and still do it anyway,” Krause said.

“I also think that some people might not want to go here if they find out its tobacco free.”