Thursday, November 24, 2011

Boren Hopes Tobacco Ban Begins July 1

Whether OU will implement a smoking cigarettes ban is no longer uncertain; the question is what that ban entails.

President David Boren aims for the policy to take effect July 1, he said in a press conference for student journalists Wednesday.

However, the proposal will not reach the OU Board of Regents by its December meeting, Boren said. He guessed it would be on the board’s January agenda and said he would release his recommendations to the public before that meeting.

In the meantime, the cigarettes committee’s meetings will remain closed to the public, as will its recommendations to Boren.

“The buy cigarettes committee is an advisory committee and just that — I don’t have to take their advice,” Boren said.

The committee is made up of five student leaders, three faculty, three staff and three administrators. Gary Raskob, College of Public Health dean and former smoker, serves as chairman.

Boren listed cleanup costs and aesthetics as reasons for the ban but said the university’s main concern is health. For that reason, the university will promote programs to help smokers quit in conjunction with the ban.

Boren said he cannot estimate how the cost of those programs will compare to the current cost of cigarette cleanup.

Because people cannot be expected to quit smoking cigarettes immediately, the plan will most likely provide for designated smoking cigarettes areas, Boren said. Those areas would be in safe locations and would be roofed.

Designated areas would prevent smokers from having to go to nearby neighborhoods or Campus Corner and concentrate their litter there, Boren said. They also would accommodate Native Americans who smoke cigarettes ceremoniously.

How to enforce the ban — and what to do on game days — is to be determined. The university does little to police the 25-feet-from-buildings law, Boren said.

Five hundred universities in the United States already have implemented smoking cigarettes bans, including Oklahoma State University, the University of Central Oklahoma and OU’s own Health Sciences Center. OU will look at the policies of those institutions in modeling its own, Boren said.

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