By Amy Lester, NEWS 9
STILLWATER, Okla. -- The air over Oklahoma State University in Stillwater is a little cleaner now.
"We want to be one of the healthiest campuses in America," OSU spokesperson Gary Shutt said. The university's tobacco free policy means no one can use tobacco on campus, not even in a vehicle.
"We really have asked all employees and students if they see someone smoking they should tell them our campus is tobacco free and they shouldn't be smoking," Shutt said. To prepare for this day, last year the university started offering programs to help employees and students quit.Sonja Hodson works at OSU and is in the cessation program. Through medication and counseling, she stopped smoking. The new policy gave her the motivation to do it.
"It was an encouragement indeed, just another confirmation that yes, this is the right time for me to drop the habit," Hodson said. But not everyone considers this a positive ban.
"It's wrong for them to tell me I can't smoke," student Jack Raper said. Some smokers said it violates their rights and they'll keep lighting up.
"There's no way they're going to be able to enforce this anyway," student Alan Oner said. "Is someone going to walk up and say, ‘Hey, can't smoke?'" They will be asked to stop and anyone caught repeatedly will face disciplinary action.
"We're not taking away their right to smoke, we're just taking away one of the places where they can do it," Shutt said. "I think the long term benefits to all of us for a healthier environment are what's most important." This is just a university policy, so you can't be ticketed or arrested for using tobacco on campus, unless you're within 25 feet of a state building.
There are a few exceptions to the rule. Tobacco is allowed in some campus housing, along with parking lots leased to the OSU Posse Club for tailgating.