State Board Considering Smoking Ban at Ohio Public Colleges

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CLEVELAND – No ifs, ands or “butts” about it – soon, Ohio smokers may be banned from lighting up on campus.

The state board of regents is considering a plan to prohibit smoking anywhere at two- and four-year public colleges in late June.

“It’s at school, so if they want you to not smoke on their property I mean, I don’t see a problem with it,” said Sabrina Haskin of Toledo. “I can smoke at home, so it’s really not a big deal for me.”

Now, many colleges in Ohio banned smoking in buildings, even before the statewide ban went into effect in 2007.

”Smokers have abused their privileges both for our clean air space and in the workplace,” said Joe Becker, an instructor at Cleveland State. “It’s now become an obligation to have your cigarette break.”

According to a study by the American College Health Association, about 37 percent of college students begin smoking after they enroll. Freshman who didn’t regularly smoke were 40 percent more likely to start smoking if the lived in dorms where smoking was permitted.

Becker said it’s important to stop the habit from even starting.

He’s been at the university since 1991, and says lighting up often takes away from valuable time inside the classroom.

“It does become a problem when a student does have to step outside for a chemical addiction or to intake their cigarettes for example. You give them a 10 minute break, it becomes a 15 minute break, a 20 minute break,” Becker said. “In the workplace, I don’t think there’s many hobbies or habits where a boss will allow you to step away from your desk and go and enjoy them.”

In contrast, some say worry about how laws like this would affect universities like Cleveland State, which is home to several international and non-traditional students.

“It comes down to smoking is legal,” said Cleveland State student Theresa Martin. “It’s not an illegal drug. I have the right to engage in smoking if I so choose. I just don’t think any of the bans currently in place are constitutionally correct.”

Despite Martin’s beliefs, in late May, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the state’s ban on smoking in indoor public places is constitutional.

Cleveland State Student Ryan Cary disagrees with the ruling. The Army veteran has served two tours overseas, and said the resolution is unfair.

“It’s kind of just taking away from what a lot of us have fought for people to have the right to,” Cary said. “Smoking may not be good for you, but neither is going to a fast-food restaurant and eating that all the time.”

“How is it fair that you’re going to take away something from me that is instilled in the Constitution,” he asked. “If smoking makes me happy, I have the right to pursue that happiness.”

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