Bowling Green State University is preparing to roll out a new, tougher smoking policy to snuff out cigarettes except in designated areas. The university spent last semester preparing for its Clean Air and Smoking Policy, approved by the board of trustees in June.
Starting Wednesday, students, employees, and BGSU visitors who want to light up cigarettes will have to go to designated smoking areas next to some campus parking lots. The policy also prohibits smoking in university vehicles and on sidewalks.
The university previously banned indoor smoking and had other rules, such as prohibiting puffing within 35 feet of residential buildings, said Michael Ginsburg, associate dean of students. But people smoked outdoors throughout campus and not far from entrances to the student union, he said. “The purpose of the policy is really to create a healthier environment for people who chose not to smoke,” Mr. Ginsburg said.
The university has been working to designate smoking spots adjacent to parking lots and mark areas with signs. A university map shows more than 30 receptacle locations spread around campus. BGSU budgeted roughly $24,000 to post signs, set up smoking receptacles, educate students, and promote the changes around campus. The Ohio Department of Health contributed about $7,000 toward the expenses, which Mr. Ginsburg expects to come in under budget.
Educational efforts included banners, custom signage proclaiming the university is “going clean in 2014,” and a section of the university’s Web site dedicated to explaining the policy. Enforcement largely will be up to the campus community. “If you are seeing it, and you are bothered by it, we are asking you to confront it and remind people in a kind way that we do have a new policy,” Mr. Ginsburg said.
The policy does not cover electronic cigarettes or tobacco products that don’t create second-hand smoke. The rules will be reviewed annually. Mr. Ginsburg said the university decided not to completely ban smoking in an effort to balance health concerns with the use of a legal product. The Ohio Board of Regents passed a resolution in July, 2012, calling for Ohio’s public universities and colleges to establish tobacco-free campuses. That action helped propel BGSU’s policy, Mr. Ginsburg said.
The board of regents passed its resolution after hearing a presentation from the Cleveland Clinic.“That’s when they determined this is going to create the healthiest environment for students,” said board of regents spokesman Jeff Robinson. At the University of Toledo, a policy implemented in 2011 limited smoking and tobacco use to about seven designated areas and in personal vehicles. Its Health Science Campus, the former Medical College of Ohio, went smoke-free in 2008.
UT senior Emily Kramp, student government president, supports a complete smoking ban and said a recent student government survey found 60 percent of student respondents also want a smoke-free campus. The student senate did not back a related resolution, a lack of support Ms. Kramp blamed on implementation concerns. She plans to continue to push for a smoke-free campus with support from the faculty senate.