On Jan. 9, Oregon State University updated its smoking and tobacco use policy to ban the use of all forms of tobacco, including vaping and chewing, on university-owned property.
Steve Clark, the vice president of University Relations and Marketing, released a statement that stated “Oregon State is committed to providing a healthy learning, research and service environment for its students and employees, and healthy community spaces for the public. This new policy is a further and important step in achieving that goal.”
The smoke-free policy started in 2012, where OSU banned cigarettes and electronic cigarettes from all university-owned properties, including the Corvallis and Bend campuses. Since then, the state of Oregon also raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old.
“Expanding this successful policy to include a prohibition on the use of all tobacco products was a logical extension of the university’s existing policy and is consistent with the university’s commitment to advance human wellness and a healthy university community.” Clark said via email.
The university’s policy on smoking and tobacco use on university property states in section 2.2 that its mission is to “help reduce exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco products, reduce tobacco use, and create opportunities to educate students about tobacco and its harms.”
“This is an important policy advancement that reflects the university’s commitment to supporting health and wellness for all members of our university community,” said Marion Ceraso, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Ceraso said that the university has actually been 100% tobacco-free since October 2019.
“We know that tobacco, in all its forms, damages health and is highly addictive. This 100% tobacco-free policy is compatible with our university’s commitment to health, creates a healthier environment for those who are trying to quit, and brings us in line with major public health organizations’ recommendations to fully integrate all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, into tobacco control policies,” Ceraso said via email.
The policy enjoys strong support amongst the university population, where according to Clark, two-thirds of students and faculty polled said they supported an extension to the policy implemented in 2012.
Roman Cohen, a third-year marketing and business administration student at OSU and a former user of vaping products who recently spoke on a panel regarding vaping usage, does not think the new policy will likely deter students. “The university needs to understand why students are smoking or using tobacco products in the first place and haven’t quit. This should include a bigger investment into better mental health resources on campus, to help students who use tobacco products and other stimulants and depressants to cope with the pressures of school and/or in their general lives,” Cohen said via email.
“More awareness through education needs to happen around the products for the general population and especially for marginalized groups who are disproportionately affected by first-hand and second-hand tobacco use,” Cohen said.