UA warns smokers not to violate law

“Be careful of where you light up your next cigarette. The University of Akron is watching. UA reminded students, faculty and staff through Zipmail Friday that the state’s smoking ban will be strictly enforced. It has been almost a year since Ohio voters approved Issue 5, a smoking ban.”

Be careful of where you light up your next cigarette.

The University of Akron is watching.

UA reminded students, faculty and staff through Zipmail Friday that the state’s smoking ban will be strictly enforced.

It has been almost a year since Ohio voters approved Issue 5, a smoking ban. It made Ohio the 12th state to prohibit smoking in public places and workplaces.

The ban states that smokers must be 25 feet away from any public enclosed area, entranceway, window or ventilation shaft.

In addition, receptacles to dispose of cigarette butts have also been moved 25 feet away from building entrances.

The university encourages smokers to be careful and considerate in disposal.

When the State of Ohio Department of Health officially began enforcing the ban on May 3, signs were posted on all areas for which smoking was prohibited.

However, the ban is still not fully obeyed.

Eight students sat on the steps of Memorial Hall Wednesday morning, ignoring signs that were about 10 feet away.

A group of students huddled in front of Olin Hall, just feet from the entranceway, smoking and flicking their cigarette butts into the grass.

So, why is UA taking steps to enforce the smoking ban?

The university has been enforcing the bill since it was adopted, David Russ, PR Representative for Institutional Marketing said.

If UA does not adhere to the Department of Health’s rules for the smoking ban, there are consequences. The first violation warrants a warning letter. The second brings a $100 fine, the third $500 and the fourth $1,000. The fifth and subsequent offenses carry a $2,500 penalty.

Revenue generated by fines will go toward the Smoke Free Indoor Air Fund.

The smoking ban goes beyond designating where people can and cannot smoke, however. According to Ohio Administrative Code rule 3701-52-03, no person shall refuse to immediately discontinue smoking in a public place.

Students, faculty and staff must adhere to any request by any employee to put the cigarette out.

When asked if he knew about the smoking ban, a freshman business administration major said, Yeah, I read about it in Zipmail, but what are they going to do? Arrest me?

The biggest question among students and staff was, how will UA enforce these rules for individuals?

Enforcement might be difficult, but reporting violations is not.

One provision of the smoking ban allows for mailed, e-mailed or telephoned reports of violations by individuals or businesses and organizations by any member of the public.

The Ohio Department of Health then investigates the reported violation. If the report is substantiated, a warning letter is sent to the individual. Subsequent violations will cost them $100.

Russ said that two complaints have already been filed at UA.

Both were for smoking in unauthorized areas near Olin Hall and the Polsky Building.

It wasn’t a matter of punishment, he said. They were asked to move and they complied.

In order to file a complaint, Russ said it must go through UAPD, or the associate vice president and dean of student life, the director of environmental and occupational health and safety, or the executive director of human resources.

A sophomore business major said he would be very upset if he received a fine and sarcastically added he would litter his cigarette butts everywhere.

Legislation in the bill also states that UA has the option to adopt a policy prohibiting smoking anywhere on campus in the future.

Russ said the issue has not been discussed yet.

The consensus of students who were smoking outside of Olin Hall felt that banning smoking everywhere on campus would be too extreme, an infringement on their rights.

A political science major waiting for class outside Olin Hall said that it would be too strict and unfair to students, faculty and staff.

One staff member feels that the ban can be unfair to smokers but is satisfied that people can still smoke, since there are many public places in which you cannot.

The University of Akron is not the only Ohio college considering a complete smoking ban.

Ball State plans to make their campus completely smoke-free.

President Jo Ann Gora said that opinions were received from students, academic departments, administrative units and the Parents Advisory Council.

The majority of the Ball State community have approved of a smoke-free campus, including two-thirds of the students and academic departments.

To coincide with the potential smoking ban, a Smoke-Free Task Force was assembled.


” #1.1361666:2598447932.jpg:20071018_smoking1_kc.jpg:A sign in an office window outside the Carroll Street of the Student Union reinforces the law.:”