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Ohio State delays enforced ban on tobacco until 2014

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OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said the university's tobacco-free initiative will not be enforced until January 2014. Credit: Kristen Mitchell / Editor-in-chief

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said the university’s tobacco-free initiative will not be enforced until January 2014. Credit: Kristen Mitchell / Editor-in-chief

Former Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee said the university would implement a new tobacco-free policy by Aug. 1, but according to OSU Media Relations, enforcement of the implemented ban is being delayed until 2014.

“We’re unveiling the initiative this semester and the actual policy we’ll unveil in January 2014,” said OSU spokesman Gary Lewis Tuesday.

During Fall Semester, the university will work on educating students, faculty and staff on the change before punitive actions are taken against on-campus smokers the following semester.

Lewis said “there are going to be sanctions” for those who reportedly break the campus tobacco-ban, which for students will fall under the Student Code of Conduct and for faculty and staff will fall under HR policy.

Besides cigarettes, the ban includes tobacco chew, snuff and snus, which is a “spitless,” moist powder tobacco pouch, according to the American Cancer Society.

Gee initially said the ban would go into effect Aug. 1 in a March interview with the Lantern editorial board.

“We are recommending to move to a tobacco-free campus, I think that’s very important,” Gee said. “We have a tobacco free medical center, and now, we want to have a tobacco-free campus.”

What the exact punishment for offenders will be is to be determined on a “case-to-case” basis based on other factors, including previous policy violations.

“Right now we are in a cultural change of getting that word out,” Lewis said.

The OSU Board of Trustees approved the revision of OSU’s smoke-free policy in April.

Lewis said in an email OSU is committed to becoming one of the “healthiest campus communities in the country” and said “visual aid signage” is being developed to spread the tobacco-free message.

Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs, supports the initiative.

“This is really a step of goodwill from the university,” Stepp said.

As for the enforcement delay, Stepp thinks it’s all about timing.

“A lot had happened this summer. We’re certainly in a transitionary phase at the university,” he said.

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