What is OCU’s policy regarding smoking and other types of tobacco on campus?                                                                       

OCU's tobacco policy

Effective Date:  May 18, 2008

The distribution or use of tobacco, including smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco, is prohibited on university property, including all indoor and outdoor spaces.

Who does this policy affect?

This policy applies to anyone who comes to campus including faculty, staff, students, visitors, vendors, volunteers, contractors, and service representatives.

OCU had a tobacco-use policy. Why change?

Oklahoma City University’s policy has adapted over time as information about the effects of tobacco use has changed society’s tolerance for it.

We have gone from allowing smoking in buildings, classrooms and offices to prohibiting smoking inside facilities and from allowing people to smoke outside to prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of building entrances. The new policy is intended to promote a healthy environment by prohibiting tobacco use anywhere on any Oklahoma City University property.

The latest U.S. Surgeon General’s report, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke,” concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to second hand smoke.

At OCU, we teach and train future scientists and healthcare professionals, and we conduct scientific research. We are keenly aware that we cannot ignore the preponderance of evidence that tobacco use is a threat to everyone’s health, smokers and non-smokers alike. We have visitors to campus, young and old, whose illnesses can be worsened by exposure to smoke. We have children participating in outreach programs on campus. We have prospective students and parents visiting campus. They need to see healthy habits modeled, not unhealthy ones. We have students with full, productive lives and careers stretching out before them when they complete their studies. We have faculty and staff who spend the better part of their days in the work environment. OCU has a responsibility and duty to protect students, employees, and visitors from tobacco’s harmful effects by eliminating its use on our campus.

OCU, as a tobacco-free campus, emphasizes the value we place on health as a quality of life issue. It makes the statement that OCU is a place where we value knowledge gained through study and where we translate research into practice.

A tobacco-free campus will enable students, faculty, staff and visitors to preserve their health by providing an environment where people can work, study, and live free from risks associated with tobacco use. Everyone is encouraged to cooperate with civility and goodwill in complying with this policy. Refraining from tobacco use on campus will make OCU a healthier place to learn, work and live.

Who made the decision to change the current policy?

A tobacco-free campus policy was requested by students and employees and received the full support of the Student Senate, the Deans Council, Staff Council, and many members of the faculty. This policy is also in line with the social principles of the United Methodist Church. The OCU Board of Trustees approved this policy.

May I smoke in my dorm room or Cokesbury Apartments?

No, all university residences are tobacco-free.

Where may I smoke?

There are no designated smoking areas on campus. Although sidewalks along city streets are noted as city property, we request, as a courtesy to others and in keeping with the tobacco-free commitment of the campus, that individuals refrain from tobacco use on the sidewalks adjoining campus property. For your reference, streets that are city owned, and therefore do not fall under the OCU Tobacco-Free Campus Policy, are:

  • Virginia Avenue

  • NW 23rd Street

  • McKinley Avenue

  • NW 28th Street

The remaining streets within the campus were built by OCU or were vacated by the city of Oklahoma City and now are owned by OCU.

When does the Tobacco Free Policy begin?

The policy is effective May 18, 2008.

May I smoke in my personal car?

Parking garages and parking lots owned or operated by the university are included in the ban.

What happens if a visitor violates the tobacco policy?

We expect visitors to the campus to comply with campus policy. You may inform a visitor of the policy and its importance to the campus. Report violations to university event sponsors or administrators.

Will the parking garage be tobacco-free as well?

University parking garages are included in the ban.

How will the new policy be enforced?

Enforcement depends on the cooperation of all faculty, staff, and students not only to comply with this policy but also to encourage others to comply with this policy in order to promote a healthy environment in which to work, study, and live. Accordingly, tobacco users are expected to voluntarily comply with the policy.

Anyone who observes a possible violation may courteously and without confrontation inform the individual of the tobacco-free policy and attempt to offer an information card. The card outlines the tobacco-free campus policy. Those who observe others in violation of the policy may report them to the appropriate department administrator or dean of students for possible disciplinary action.

What are the consequences for violating the policy?

Great efforts will be made to ensure faculty, staff, and students are aware of the new policy. Individuals who knowingly violate the policy will be referred to the appropriate campus administrative unit for disciplinary action. Students will be referred to the dean of students for possible disciplinary action.

May visitors smoke on our campus?

No. Visitors may not smoke on OCU property.

As an employee, do I have to quit smoking?

No, the university cannot compel you to quit using tobacco, but you cannot use tobacco on university property. However, if you are interested in quitting, a number of resources are available to help you quit, including the following:

  • OCU Student Health, 208-5090, offers a free appointment with a nurse to discuss over-the-counter and prescription aids to cessation.  Free Quit Kits are provided, as well. 

  • Oklahoma Tobacco Hotline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) Sunday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. for free cessation assistance and resource information.

  • Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline – www.stopswithme.org

  • The National Cancer Institute has a toll-free quit line in English and Spanish. The toll-free number is 1-877-44U-QUIT (7848) and it is available Monday-Friday, 9-4:30, local time.

  • Go to www.smokefree.gov for a great Web site sponsored by various government agencies. Reasons to quit, how to prepare to quit, managing cravings, determining your “triggers,” information about various smoking cessation aids, a publication geared just for African American smokers, and more are offered at this site. It also offers telephone counseling in both English and Spanish.

  • Quitnet offers a way to devise your own quit plan, forums where you can communicate with others, and expert advice. Go to www.quitnet.com and click on “Get Started Now” in the box on right. They also have information in Spanish and an online chat area where Quitnet members can go for immediate support.

  • There’s a great site especially for college students at www.tobaccofreeu.org.

  • The American Lung Association, whose Web site is in both English and Spanish, has an online smoking cessation program called “Freedom from Smoking” (www.lungusa.org/tobacco). The site also has great information on steps to take when you’re planning to quit. If you would like to use printed guides or attend smoking cessation sessions, contact the American Lung Association at (317) 573-3900.

  • The Center for Disease Control Web site, in both English and Spanish, has educational information and information on how to quit. www.cdc.gov/tobacco.

  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has information on five keys to quitting and much more. www.ahrq.gov/consumer/tobacco/quits.htm.

  • Circle of Friends is a grassroots movement that highlights the toll of tobacco-related disease on women. Go to www.join-the-circle.org/

  • Women who are pregnant and quit smoking are more likely to go full-term and give their babies more oxygen and a chance to have good lung function and normal birth weight. After birth, smoking cessation lowers the baby’s chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and lung-related infections. Specific information about pregnancy and smoking is available at www.americanlegacy.org/greatstart, www.helppregnantsmokersquit.org or toll-free1-866-66-START (78278).

  • Tobacco Free Nurses (tobaccofreenurses.org)

  • Primary care physicians can also assist their patients with quitting.

What resources are available to help those who are struggling with this change and would like counseling?

Full-time employees have access to the Work-Life Balance Program, The Hartford, www.guidanceresources.com for consultative and other services to help in balancing work, home, personal or family issues.  The OCU personal counseling staff is available to assist students.

May I use the money I put aside in my Flex Spending Account to pay for costs related to smoking cessation aids and counseling that are not covered by insurance?

Yes, you can use your flex spending account to pay for counseling (by a licensed counselor, M.D., Ph.D., social worker), nicotine gum not covered by insurance, or for co-pays on items that are partially covered by insurance (patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, prescription drugs for smoking cessation, etc.).

Does this policy affect employees at facilities off the main campus?

Yes, the policy applies to everyone at all OCU facilities, regardless of location.

Isn’t this a violation of my civil rights?

No.  Oklahoma City University has the authority to govern the use of university property and regulate its use.

Should managers/supervisors talk to employees about the policy?

It is recommended that managers/supervisors discuss this policy with all employees.

What should managers/supervisors do if one of their employees violates the policy?

Repeated violations of campus policy will be handled through administrative coaching, disciplinary action, and/or the performance review process.

May university vehicles be used to travel off campus to smoke?

University vehicles are to be used for business purposes only; using a university vehicle solely for the purpose of going off campus to smoke is prohibited.

How do I tell visitors about our tobacco use policy?

Simply state, “For the health of our visitors, students, and employees, tobacco use is not allowed on our campus.” You may also want to acquire some Tobacco-Free information cards to distribute.

Is employee training on tobacco-free campus policy and implementation available?

Yes. Check out upcoming workshops or call Valerie Robinson, Human Resources, 208-5983.

What resources are available to assist in the transition?

OCU understands that change can be difficult. The following information and resources are available to assist in the transition.
OCU offers:

  • "Quit Kits" for employees and students are available at Student Health, 208-5090

  • An extensive list of resources such as quitlines, smoking cessation programs in the community, etc.

  • On-campus support groups

  • On-campus information sessions

  • Over-the-counter cessation products and coupons

  • Tele-counseling services

  • Resource and referral information

  • Health screenings

Tips for communicating the policy to guests, faculty, students, staff:

  • Faculty and staff members may courteously and tactfully approach the person and calmly explain the tobacco-free campus policy. “For the health and safety of our visitors, students, and employees, Oklahoma City University is a tobacco-free campus. Please extinguish your cigarette/cigar or cease using chewing tobacco.” You may offer him/her a policy card. Walk away.

  • If the person is a staff member and that person continues to use tobacco products in a prohibited area, please report the incident to Administrative Services Administration (208-5857).  If the person is a student, report him or her to the Dean of Students (208-7900).  If the person is a faculty member, report him/her to the department chair or academic dean.