The revised on-campus smoking policy at Oakland University was the subject of a recent email blast from John Beaghan, vice president of finance and administration, an OU news article and an Oakland Post article.
But this cloudy policy keeps OU a cloudy campus. Let’s end both and put in place a complete smoking ban.
The newly revised policy No. 475 of OU’s Administrative Policies and Procedures states that students are not allowed to smoke within a 50-foot perimeter outside of on campus buildings, in addition to not being allowed to smoke inside the buildings, nor inside university-owned vehicles.
According to the policy, all employees are supposed to report offenders.
The protocol for this varies depending on who is breaching the rule.
In order to exert this rule, “no smoking signs” are supposed to be visible and conspicuously posted around campus and smoking areas will be marked through 22 urns that are located on campus.
However, not all of the urn locations meet the 50-foot requirement.
Oakland Post Campus Editor Andrew Craig, Design Editor Jason Willis and Copy Editor Justin Colman measured the physical distance from the urns to buildings and found that only 12 out of 22 measured are in compliance with the policy.
A smoking urn outside South Foundation Hall was placed only 17 feet away.
There is also no direct punishment for breaking the rule.
The policy states that violators are subject to discipline and could face a civil fine, but doesn’t make that threat apparent, which makes us wonder: How are students going to abide by these rules if they’re not enforced?
We see the revised smoking policy as a half-hearted attempt to regulate conduct. A final decision needs to be made.
Other Michigan public universities have adopted a smoking ban throughout their entire campuses.
Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, with respective campus populations of about 47,000 and 42,000, are able to effectively administer their policies.
A quote from Cora Hanson, OU’s health and life safety officers in last week’s Post exemplifies this issue.
“The committee considered whether (25 feet) was really enough to ensure that students, faculty and staff who wish to, could avoid exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.”
No amount of tobacco smoke exposure is safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
So regardless of where the bins are, secondhand will still have a negative effect on students.
The Clean Air Act proclaimed that sequestering smokers in secluded areas doesn’t work, so keeping Oakland in a gray area isn’t going to work, either.
It’s like saying you’re only allowed to pee in a certain part of the pool — Oakland needs to make a choice.