Ohio State University Police officers will not be involved in the enforcement of OSU’s tobacco ban and will not issue citations, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said.
Additionally, a human resources memo from August states explicitly that, concerning tobacco violations, “Ohio State Police will not respond to calls, as policy enforcement is not their role.”
Set to take effect in January 2014, the ban is a matter of policy, not law, and infractions will be dealt with by OSU Human Resources and the Student Conduct Board, Lewis said.
Several people involved in the implementation of the plan, however, have said the policy is more bark than bite.
Roger Crawfis, associate professor of computer science and engineering and member of Faculty Council, which is made up of about 70 members representing faculty from the 18 OSU colleges, the University Libraries, the Military Sciences and the regional campuses, according to the University Senate website, told those in attendance at a Thursday meeting the implementation discussions which took place during the spring determined OSU does not intend to crack down on tobacco use.
“There really won’t be enforcement,” Crawfis said at the meeting. “It’s more just peer pressure to help people who want to quit, quit. So it’s more just a psychological warfare.”
Faculty Council Chair Leslie Alexander confirmed that to the group Thursday, and said while the implementation committee will set up a complaint system, the university does not appear to have a plan of responding to complaints.
The university-wide ban on tobacco was approved by the Board of Trustees in April, and was initially supposed to go into effect Aug. 1. That was later pushed back to January to allow for more thorough education of the policy, Lewis told The Lantern at the beginning of August.
Sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct stipulate that students receive hearings after a reported violation, with punishments ranging from letters of reprimand, which are written letters issued because of a student’s misconduct, to dismissal.
Despite the complexity, Lewis said sanctions can and will be filed for repeat violators, adding that three employees at the Wexner Medical Center have been terminated for repeated violations of the tobacco ban.
Ohio State banned tobacco use on the Medical Center premises in 2006.
Lewis said the university’s priority right now is communicating the policy and making sure departments and supervisors put pressure on their constituents.
Trey Schroeder, a third-year in computer science, is a smoker and said the university’s enforcement plan will not stop people from smoking on campus.
“I have seen no less smoking on campus since these discussions started, and the people who live in dorms and do smoke aren’t going to just magically quit,” he said. “If anything, you’re just forcing them to walk off campus to smoke, which first of all, they’re not going to do.”
Schroeder said he thinks there are better ways to get people to stop smoking in certain areas.
“A more effective solution would be to make designated smoking areas. I understand the point of the policy, but in practicality, people do smoke cigarettes, and people who are addicted aren’t going to quit just because the school wants them to,” he said. “I smoke, and I don’t really mind the policy, but I just don’t think it will be effective. It just seems like something they’re doing so they can say ‘we have a tobacco-free campus’ even though they know it’s not going to work.”
Mirko Mandic, a fourth-year in strategic communication, quit smoking about a year ago. He said the university should focus on providing smoking cessation resources if they genuinely care about students’ health.
“I believe they’re just trying to do this for show, and they’re not actually putting the resources into it. Smoking isn’t the kind of thing that you just decide to quit and it’s that easy,” he said. “If they want students to stop smoking, they need to provide them with the resources to do that.”
Other students said the lack of police enforcement will make the ban difficult to implement.
“I don’t think it sounds very effective at all. It seems like there’s a completely unnecessary amount of red tape behind it. It would be a very winding road to get through that process, and for an offense as minor as smoking, it doesn’t seem necessary at all,” said Matt Love, a first-year in mechanical engineering.
Nick Gulish, a first-year in engineering, expressed similar sentiments.
“If campus police can’t do anything, that basically negates the point of the ban. If they have to go out and do a bunch of extra stuff to enforce it, it will make it ineffective,” he said.