Campus smoking policy revised



Oakland University is implementing a new smoking policy in order to promote public health and comply with the Michigan Indoor Clean Air Act.

Smoking at OU has always been a controversial issue.

The debate boils down to a battle of wills: propagation of free will versus the general advocacy of health.

Addressing a health risk

According to Policy #475 of OU’s Administrative Policies and Procedures, the university recognizes that tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke are significant health hazards, citing that, “tobacco smoke has been identified as a Group A carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) and studies have shown that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

Oakland’s previous policy established a distance of 25 feet from any campus building, however, the new policy extends limitations to 50 feet from campus buildings as well as within vehicles on OU property.

The only exceptions to the new policy, according to university policy, are specifically zoned locations, such as Meadow Brook Hall and both of the university’s golf courses. These areas are permitted to adopt separate smoking policies from the university, provided they are made in accordance with state law.

Revisions to the smoking policy were considered by a committee composed of many members of the campus community.

“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,” Cora Hanson, OU’s environmental health and life safety manager, said. “Committee consensus was that extending the perimeter to 50 feet was a more effective way to achieve this.”

Smoking areas will be marked by urns in which smokers may discard their butts. However, some who smoke have a problem with the placement of the urns.

One staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, mentioned that there are no urns located near seating locations, so littering becomes a factor.

Another staff member pointed out that since the urns have been moved further from the doors of buildings, shelter should also be provided for when inclement weather strikes.

A growing trend

However, many smokers and non-smokers agree that smoking a distance away from the entrances and exits of buildings is respectful of the community at large.

The revision of the smoking policy is a step that reinforces the policies already implemented at other universities, such as the University of Michigan.

As of July 1, regulations at U of M prohibit smoking anywhere on any of the university’s three campuses except on sidewalks adjacent to public roads on the campuses and in vehicles on campus, according to The Michigan Daily.

Smokers and non-smokers alike feel that students at OU should be allowed to smoke in their cars because it is their own personal space.

As for the likelihood of a campus-wide ban, Hanson said: “The committee continues to receive feedback on the current situation and is reviewing the possibility of a campus-wide ban.”

Enforcing the smoking ban will be a group effort, although existing disciplinary policies may be used as appropriate.

According to Hanson, the policy states that “all employees share in the responsibility of adhering to this policy and should ask individuals smoking in violation of this act to refrain from smoking and, if the individual continues to smoke in violation of the policy, ask him or her to leave the public place.”

Complaints involving smoking by a student may be made to the supervisor of the area or the Dean of Students Office, 144 Oakland Center, 248-370-3352.

For assistance in interpreting the policy, contact the Office of Environmental Health and safety at 248-370-4196.