At a table in the EMU, student health educators stood over about 20 plastic bags of discarded cigarette butts. Despite the closed plastic, the trash still smelled strongly of stale smoke. On Friday, volunteers at the U of O walked around campus for 30 minutes, and in that small amount of time, they collected hundreds, if not thousands of the cigarette leftovers.
In 284 days, the University of Oregon will be an entirely smoke and tobacco free campus. It’s part of a larger healthy campus initiative, but also, according to Student Affairs Vice President Robin Holmes, it’s about a healthy environment.
“So becoming a smoke and tobacco free campus is not just a public health issue, but it also is a sustainability issue… to keep our campus green and more beautiful. As you saw over at the table, we picked up a lot of butts. And when we become smoke and tobacco free, we hope not to see all those butts on our campus.”
The U of O announced the policy change before any other school in the PAC-12, and several have now followed suit. The ban is not only going to effect cigarette smokers, but also users of other tobacco products, like smokeless tobacco.
Right before the countdown clock was revealed, UO English student Saad Alqahtani lit up a cigarette on the EMU patio. But he’s not upset about the coming ban.
“I wish I cut it, but I can’t. When I walk and smoke on the campus everywhere, I can smoke a lot. But when they do it, I can’t smoke. And it’s good for my healthy. And I wish they do it.”
Oregon State University will also go smoke, but not tobacco, free in September of next year. Lane Community College went smoke and tobacco free in fall of 2010.