For smokers, Aug. 1 will mark the end of an era. On that day OCCC will become a smoke-free campus with smoking banned throughout the institution — including outdoors.
The Board of Regents voted unanimously June 21 to outlaw smoking and the use of other tobacco products on campus, President Paul Sechrist said.
Sechrist said the goal is to encourage people to give up the habit.
Oklahoma scores low on many charts that measure healthy living, he said.
According to Forbes Magazine, the state ranks 48th in the nation in obesity and 49th in being most unhealthy. One in four Oklahoma adults are smokers, the publication said.
Currently, 16 percent of Oklahoma youth in grades 6 through 8 and 32 percent in grades 9 through 12 use some form of tobacco products.
Sechrist said he has appointed a Tobacco Free Campus Advisory Committee working with Jerry Steward, executive vice president, to develop an enforcement policy.
The goal is to have this policy finalized and approved in the next couple of months so it can be published and brought to everyone’s attention around the school, he said.
Sechrist, who is not a user of any tobacco product, said he favors the ban on smoking, believing it will take OCCC in the right direction.
OCCC student Baily Sneed, a smoker of Marlboro Menthol Smooths, said she opposes the smoking ban.
Sneed said she thinks people should focus more on larger issues like drug abuse and the high cost of textbooks.
Fellow student Kreta Chambers, who is a senior at the University of Oklahoma studying Macroeconomics at OCCC, said she is 100 percent behind this new policy.
Chambers said she hates smoking and second-hand smoke.
She said she has recently quit smoking so she hates walking through smoke when trying to enter and exit the building.
Being an ex-smoker, Chambers said, she prefers not to be around it.
Physics Professor Steven Kamm is a smoker who said he’s sorry to see smoking kicked off campus altogether.
Kamm, who received his master’s degree at the University of London, said he was fortunate enough be teaching at OCCC when it was established 1972.
He said during his career he has seen attitudes toward smokers evolve from very tolerant to completely intolerant.
“When the doors opened in 1972, there were no restrictions on smoking except the fire department said you could not smoke in enclosed places like the bathrooms and the elevators,” Kamm said.
One factor, he said, was the absence of permanent walls around classrooms and offices, just temporary partitions. He said the movable partitions allowed the smoke to drift away.
“In those days it would not be uncommon to see a teacher with a piece of chalk in one hand and a cigarette in the other,” Kamm said.
Then one by one, he said, regulations were enacted, limiting where smoking was allowed.
First, professors would split up the classroom into one side for smokers and the other side for non-smokers, Kamm said, simply because smoking was a distraction for those who did not smoke.
Then, after a number of years, he said, college administrators decided to prohibit smoking in the classrooms altogether.
The campus provided smoking rooms around campus and those were the only places cigarette smoking was allowed inside the buildings.
Finally, smoking was completely prohibited inside the buildings in the late 1980s, Kamm said.
Later, when Oklahoma passed the law restricting smoking within 25 feet of any public entrance or doorway, designated containers were placed at state-regulation distances all over the campus to provide for easy disposal of cigarette butts, he said.
Kamm said he believes smokers should be respectful of others. He said he does not smoke in front of his grandchild, for instance.
On the other hand, he said, he has been cursed by more than one smoker when he has asked them not to smoke so close to entry doors.
- (June 21, 2010) OCCC set to become tobacco-free campus