UO tobacco ban continues to show positive results, according to survey

Since the University of Oregon became smoke- and tobacco-free, university staff have found that the policy has been effective — but difficult to enforce.

In the fall of 2012, UO became the first school in the Pac-12 to officially become smoke- and tobacco-free. Senior Vice President Jim Bean said at the time that the decision was made to provide a healthier campus for students and visitors.

According to a survey conducted by Elliot Berkman in the UO’s health promotion department, student tobacco use on campus was recorded at 64 percent before the policy was put into place, and after implementing the policy, it dropped to 29 percent. The survey also showed that faculty use of tobacco on campus was at 67 percent before the policy and 19 percent after the policy.

UO Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Student Success Jennifer Summers said there weren’t many challenges in getting the policy off the ground.

“The majority of campus wanted to go smoke- and tobacco-free,” Summers said. “It’s not often you have something like this that everyone gets behind, and thinks ‘Wow, this is an awesome policy.’ “

But as the survey conducted by Berkman shows, there is still a significant number of people smoking on campus, even after smoking has been banned. Though a relatively easy policy to pass, the real challenge has come from trying to enforce it.

“You’re never going to have 100 percent compliance with something like this,” Summers said.

University of Oregon Police Department spokesman Kelly McIver agreed with Summers.

“What’s really tough about something like this is that it only takes a second to smoke a cigarette,” McIver said.

Though the UOPD actively tries to enforce the policy, the brevity of smoking a cigarette is merely one of the obstacles, McIver said.

Another problem when it comes to enforcing the policy is that there are multiple hot spots on campus where smoking often occurs. One of the most known examples of these hot spots is Kincaid Street.

Since the university doesn’t own these areas, the policy doesn’t technically extend to them. Instead these places are considered courtesy areas where students are asked to not smoke out of respect for others and the university.

However, that’s often not the case.

“It’s annoying walking past Kincaid and having to go through those clouds of smoke,” UO senior Roy Fernandez said. “Obviously, it’s not that big of a deal, but it would be nice if the policy extended to those areas as well.”

To help ensure the policy’s continued success, the UO offers smoking-cessation programs for students looking to quit, a part of the Healthy Campus Initiative. The Healthy Campus Initiative states the smoke- and tobacco-free policy is in place for the best interest and health of all students at UO.

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Kyle Wizner

Kyle Wizner