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Tobacco-free task force shares results of ‘Survey on the Impact of the Tobacco-Free Policy’

The tobacco-free task force at Ohio University is continuing its efforts to prepare the University and communicate the new tobacco-free policy that will begin in August 2015. The Survey on the Impact of the Tobacco-Free Policy was shared with the Athens campus March 30 through April 17 to raise awareness of the upcoming change and gather feedback for implementing the policy in the best way possible.

There were 2,375 survey participants, 60 percent of whom were students. Out of all of the survey participants, 81 percent reported that they did not smoke or use any tobacco products, which is consistent with the first survey initiated by the Tobacco-Free Task Force two years ago in February 2013 (of 2,222 participants) with 82 percent reporting not using tobacco. Of those who reported themselves as smokers or users of tobacco in this most recent survey, 33 percent indicated that they were considering quitting smoking either before or within the first year of the tobacco-free policy. Of the students, faculty, and staff who reported that they had already taken a tobacco cessation course here at Ohio University, 21 percent rated the course as “effective,” and 33 percent rated the course as “somewhat effective.”

The survey was used to plan the next faculty/staff tobacco cessation classes. Based on most popular times for class offerings, the next courses have been scheduled for Tuesdays in May, noon to 1 p.m., in Baker University Center Room 226 (except May 12, in Baker University Center Room 229), and another course begins on Tuesdays starting May 26 through June 16 from 4-5 p.m. in Baker University Center Room 341. Summer classes will be scheduled for students on an as-needed basis. A current listing of tobacco cessation classes for students and for faculty/staff, as well as contact information for both facilitators, is always available under resources on the tobacco-free website at www.ohio.edu/tobacco-free.

There were opportunities on the survey to give open-ended answers about remaining questions and concerns about the policy.  Responses included both appreciation for the initiative and concerns about implementation. Some smokers responded that it would be difficult to get off campus to smoke while others stated that this wouldn’t be a problem at all. Many respondents expressed concern that enforcement would be insufficient to change the amount of tobacco use on campus. Some asked for greater clarification in where smoking and tobacco use would be allowed, such as a map. A few also expressed that the policy was a violation of individual rights.

The five participants who won the $50 Bobcat Cash participation incentive were Elizabeth Hager, Alec (A.J.) Bialota, Amy Schmitt, Sergio Gonzalez, and Hannah E. Jessie. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who participated in the survey.

This article was provided by the Ohio University Tobacco-Free Task Force.

Tobacco Litter Assessment completed on Athens Beautification Day

Several campus groups including Student Senate Alumni Society and Alpha Gamma Delta participated in cigarette butt clean up on OHIO’s campus on Athens Beautification Day, along with two members of OHIO’s tobacco-free task force. The project was meant to improve the campus appearance and provide a physical assessment of tobacco litter from a sampling of locations.   

Tobacco litter was picked up at Bromley Hall, Haning Hall, Chubb Hall, Copeland Hall, Baker University Center, Peden Stadium, the Convocation Center, West Green Oxbow Drive and Morton Hall, among other locations. Steve Patterson from Athens City Council assisted in weighing a random selection of these collections. The results are reported in pounds: Convocation Center, 1.5 lbs.; West Green Oxbow Drive, 1.5 lbs.; Peden Stadium, 1.5 lbs.; Baker University Center, .5 lbs.; Morton Hall, .5 lbs.; and one collection from an unidentified location, .5 lbs.  

Using the weight of a small number of counted cigarette butts to determine cigarette butts per pound, there were approximately 4,274 cigarette butts in the weighed samples alone. Based on that average, volunteers picked up between 7,000 and 8,000 cigarettes on Athens Beautification Day. Let’s keep OHIO’s campus a greener, cleaner place!