By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Students, faculty and staff at the University of Oklahoma have a new incentive to kick the habit, as the university’s new smoking ban took effect Sunday.
Because of a recent executive order signed by Gov. Mary Fallin, the university’s original plan to allow two designated campus smoking areas has been amended, making the entire campus — including all sports venues — completely smoke free.
“Our fans have a history of compliance, and we anticipate more of the same in the future,” said Kenneth Mossman, director of athletics media relations. “It is common for us to receive correspondence from visiting fans about the friendliness and atmosphere among our fan base.”
Mossman said the athletic department does not anticipate the new policy having an impact on attendance.
“The governor’s order is the right thing,” said Gary Raskob, Ph.D., tobacco advisory committee leader and College of Public Health dean. “Evidence shows these programs and initiatives are key for reducing secondhand smoke.”
A tobacco-free policy for the OU campus originally was drafted by a tobacco advisory committee to OU President David Boren in 2011 and was approved by the Board of Regents in January.
The policy’s inclusion of smoking areas, in the parking lots of Dale Hall and Lloyd Noble Center was a “compromise” according to Boren, who told the regents he wanted the policy to minimize secondhand smoke exposure on campus while recognizing and accommodating the difficulty of quitting.
“In no way was I uncomfortable with the president’s decision to include designated smoking areas,” Raskob said. “We were concerned about preventing an increase in smoking at neighboring off-campus locations, as addressed in the OUHR notices.”
This notice, emailed to all OU employees, said disciplinary action for violators will include verbal warnings, employee disciplinary action or student misconduct action, escorting off campus, ticketing and fines.
Smokers in the OU community have a variety of free cessation classes and tools available through the university, Norman Regional Hospital and others.
Though the smoking ban is here to stay, the policy will be evaluated after about a year of implementation.
“The lead time of a year is based on the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control,” Raskob said. “I’m confident that complaints or other issues which arise will be dealt with appropriately.”
For more information on free quitting resources, visit healthysooners.ouhsc. edu/tobacco/default.aspx.