The tobacco policy at Oregon State University’s two campuses in Corvallis and Bend became stricter Thursday, as the university banned all tobacco products on its properties.
OSU’s updated tobacco rule now forbids chewing or dipping tobacco, along with hookah tobacco use at OSU’s main Corvallis campus and OSU-Cascades in Bend. The new policy became effective immediately.
Both campuses already banned smoking and vaping tobacco in 2012.
The decision will help promote a healthier lifestyle for the university’s students, faculty and staff, said OSU-Cascades spokesperson Christine Coffin.
“We support efforts that encourage the health and wellness of our community,” she said Thursday.
Both of Oregon’s other large public universities — the University of Oregon and Portland State University — banned all tobacco products in 2014.
After OSU forbade smoking and vaping on campus , the university’s faculty and students kept asking about banning other tobacco products, according to university spokesperson Steve Clark.
“It was increasingly apparent … that there was an interest in addressing the other aspects of tobacco use,” he said.
In a 2018 study conducted by the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences at the Corvallis campus, two-thirds of students, faculty and staff who participated approved of a completely tobacco-free OSU campus, Clark added.
The new tobacco policy will apply to all facilities owned and operated by the university, which means it also applies for visitors attending Beaver football games or other OSU sporting events.
Clark said if someone is caught using tobacco products on either of OSU’s campuses, a staff member or public safety officer will walk over and politely ask that person to stop. He called the enforcement tactic “friendly engagement.”
“They’re not asked to leave, and it’s not a citation kind of policy,” Clark said.
If someone refuses to quit using tobacco products or becomes belligerent when confronted, then public safety officers will intervene, Clark said. But he doesn’t expect that to happen.
“If a disruption occurred, we’d address that,” he said. “But we don’t anticipate that this policy will cause folks to be disruptive.”
Coffin added that because OSU-Cascades has a comparatively small campus, with only three buildings and little open land, it would be difficult for people to use tobacco in secret.
“It’s hard to be invisible on a campus of our size,” she said.
Some OSU-Cascades students said they were fine with a completely tobacco-free campus.
“It’s a great way to promote people cutting back on tobacco use,” said senior Angeli VanLaanen, 34. “It’s been proven to have negative impacts, so in that sense, I’m happy about it.”
First-year student Fallon Marshall agreed.
“I personally don’t partake in any of that, and I think that the health issues that are associated with participating in those activities are not good for your body,” said Marshall, 18.
Isaiah Bernhardt, a junior at OSU-Cascades, said the ban didn’t affect him. However, he said he didn’t like that the university got involved in its students’ personal decisions.
“I don’t always know that it’s the school’s responsibility to try and get involved with students’ lives in that way,” said Bernhardt, 20.
Clark said OSU doesn’t intend to intrude in the lifestyle of students or staff with its new tobacco policy.
“We’re not trying to dictate to people in their homes. We’re managing the university and its facilities,” he said.