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Local lawyer seeks campus smoking ban

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A Maumee lawyer plans to urge Ohio’s public colleges to ban all tobacco use on campuses.

James Tuschman, chairman of the Ohio Board of Regents, who is also a member of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors, says he will introduce a resolution to that effect at a regents’ meeting this month.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he 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 ban on their campuses. Although many schools restrict smoking on their properties, Miami University, near Cincinnati, is the only public university in the state that bans smoking campuswide.

Although the proposed resolution is only a recommendation to schools, local advocates for smoking bans heralded the move and said action by the state board of regents could help push school boards of trustees to act. The University of Toledo bans smoking at its Health Science Campus, which is the former Medical College of Ohio, and restricts smoking to seven bus-stop-type designated smoking areas on its main campus.

Tavis Glassman, a University of Toledo assistant professor of health education, called Mr. Tuschman’s proposal a “great idea.” Mr. Glassman was on a committee that made recommendations to the university’s board of trustees that led last year to the designated smoking areas. The committee had pushed for a smoke-free campus but settled for a compromise after students and staff voted for restrictions but not an outright ban.

He said people on campus have become accustomed to the restrictions and would eventually accept a smoke-free campus.

“Nobody ever thinks about smoking indoors,” Mr. Glassman said. “The policy has to be passed, and then people have to embrace the policy.”

Although noncommittal on support for a universitywide tobacco ban, UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs called tobacco an “incredibly addictive, incredibly damaging substance” and highlighted the school’s efforts in limiting its use.

“The University of Toledo will continue to lead the promotion of public health across our facilities and strive to eliminate the damage second-hand smoke can cause to our employees, students, patients, and visitors,” Dr. Jacobs said in a statement.

Bowling Green State University banned smoking in all its buildings in 1994, well before a 2007 state law restricted smoking inside most public places and workplaces.

The university, according to spokesman Dave Kielmeyer, “looks forward to reviewing any recommendations by the Ohio Board of Regents.”

Smoking is prohibited in Owens Community College buildings, any college vehicle, and other designated no-smoking areas, school spokesman Bradley Meyer said. A stricter ban, he said, is something the college would be open to discussing.

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.

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

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

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

Dr. 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 and drinking as well as social pressure and weight control.

Staff writer Nolan Rosenkrans contributed to this report.

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