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2012 June 25 - 12:00 am

TRACKING TRENDS : Ohio Higher Ed Leaders Urge Campus Bans on Tobacco Use

CLEVELAND (AP) — A measure urging a ban on tobacco on Ohio’s public college campuses will be presented to the state’s higher education board, the board chairman said.

Ohio Board of Regents Chairman James Tuschman plans to introduce the resolution at a regents meeting this month, The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Tuschman said.

Trustees at each of the state’s 14 universities and 23 community colleges would have to make the decision on whether to impose a stricter ban on their campus.

Many colleges in Ohio banned smoking in buildings even before a state law that went into effect in 2007 restricted smoking inside most public places and workplaces. People can smoke on college greens and other open areas on most of the state’s campuses.

The resolution, supported by Chancellor Jim Petro, was influenced by a plea to regents last month from Toby Cosgrove, chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic.

“Universities take a great deal of thought, time and expense to educate the brain,” Cosgrove told the regents. “You have to think about educating the bodies.”

Cosgrove, who says 20 percent of people in the United States continue to smoke, told regents that 37 percent of college students who smoke begin after they enroll because of factors including stress, drinking and social pressure and weight control.

Petro said he began smoking a pack a day at Denison University and smoked five or six cigarettes daily for 40 years before quitting four years ago. At least one doctor told him the laryngeal cancer he was diagnosed with in 2009 could have been caused by smoking, said Petro, who is now cancer-free.

The number of smoke-free college campuses across the nation has grown from a handful to around 700 since Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights in Berkeley, Calif., began tracking information a decade ago, that organization’s associate director, Bronson Frick, said.

Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma have banned smoking on all state college campuses.

Ohio regent Vinny Gupta said several college presidents told him they feared losing enrollment to other Ohio colleges if they ban tobacco on their campuses. But Frick said enrollment and employment have not been affected at smoke-free campuses and many schools save money on health costs.

Miami University in southwest Ohio is the only public university in Ohio that bans smoking on campus, the newspaper reported.

A spokeswoman for Miami University in Oxford said the smoke-free policy instituted campus-wide in 2008 has not been detrimental there and people ``are happy not to have to walk through smoke.’’

People who smoke at Miami do it in their cars or walk outside campus boundaries, spokeswoman Claire Wagner said.

The University of Toledo bans all tobacco products but allows their use in seven huts around campus and in personal vehicles on campus.

Notre Dame College in South Euclid and several other private colleges in Ohio have smoke-free campuses.

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