Health Ohio University Ohio University

The Tiny Pollutant Banned on Campus

As of this year, Ohio University has prohibited smoking on campus in hopes of creating a healthier student body. However there may be a fluke within this tobacco-free policy that may cause some detrimental problems within the environment: the removal of all ashtrays on campus property.

Photo by Asha Brogan

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug that takes, for some, years to overcome. And unfortunately, as some students may have noticed already – ashtray or no ashtray – people are going to keep smoking regardless of this new policy.

So why is it so hard for people to quit smoking when they know their is a policy prohibiting it? Psychology professor Timothy Anderson gives his explanation as to why quitting is such a difficult tasks.

The main reason is that it’s a physical dependency and that drives increased cravings and difficulty quitting,” Anderson said. “However, people can and do quit, but it’s often after several attempts before the average person is able to quit.”  

Unfortunately, our environment cannot wait several attempts before OU students and staff overcome their addictions.

“They can’t get over an addiction that quickly,” Mariah Marlatt, a student at Ohio University who has friends who smoke despite the policy, said.“If they still have access to buy cigarettes, they’re still going to buy them and they’re still going to smoke them. But now, they’re are just going to be throwing cigarette buts on the ground instead of in ashtrays.”

Chase Compton, a former OU student explains how he believes the new policy will greatly help smokers, like himself, quit their addiction or become more mindful as to where they smoke. When asked about the dismantlement of ashtrays Mr. Compton believes that that decision could lead to more cigarettes littered on the ground. Even when there were ashtrays around campus, he recalls certain spots being extremely littered with cigarette buts.

“It does get kind of dirty down there [South Green] when people start smoking, especially by the picnic tables where people throw their buds everywhere,” Compton said. “It definitely needs to be cleaned up.”

Not only do cigarettes hold hundreds of toxic chemicals, like arsenic and lead, which then leak even more harmful chemicals into the air but, a single cigarette can cause havoc on the environment years after it is lit. The plastic they are made of will take thousands of years to degrade.

Pocket ashtrays were dispersed to smokers in hopes of keeping litter off campus grounds. Photo provided by POWER GAMMA.

Now that ashtrays are dismantled from OU’s streets it will leave those who smoke no choice but to toss their tiny pollutants onto the ground. However, Catherine Lee, tobacco-free campus coordinator, has a solution. Pocket-sized ashtrays have been provided to her by Athens City, which after distribution to smokers on campus, she hopes will eliminate the amount of cigarettes on the ground. Lee explained how the pocket ashtrays act as a joint message with the words “Thank you for not littering” labeled on them.  

There are services provided that strive to help those overcome their addiction, which in turn would limit the amount of cigarette pollution on the streets. If you or anyone you know smokes, consider attending one of  OU’s programs through POWER GAMMA and Rise which provide free cessation classes and three months worth of nicotine patches that help people to stop smoking.  

Student leaders of POWER GAMMA said that there are volunteers within the program who survey students and see if they have heard about the policy and if they need or if they know anyone who needs help quitting. The leaders stressed the need for more volunteers, during the POWER GAMMA recruitment event, in order to make the policy more well known throughout the campus. Anyone can become a volunteer by signing up in 355 Baker, which is the campus health department.

It will take everyone holding each other accountable in order for the policy to take root within Ohio University.  We have been told all of our lives how terrible smoking is for our health, but now it’s time to raise awareness about our environment’s health as well.

Correction 10/15/15: Cathy Lee was referred to as the Vice President of Student Affairs. Her title has been corrected to the tobacco-free campus coordinator. 

Kaitlin is more than ready to put her green thumb, journalistic mind, and quirky artistic self to work here at College Green Magazine. Kaitlin is a freshman in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is planning on specializing in environmental studies. Having a passion for the arts as well, Kaitlin is a part of The Lost Flamingo Company at Ohio…

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  1. Just to clarify, Cathy Lee is not the vice president of student affairs, just the tobacco-free campus coordinator. Jenny Hall Jones is the interim vice president of student affairs. Thanks!

  2. Great article! Hopefully this will encourage people to seek help to quit this very addictive & health hazardous habit, as well as help make our environment healthier!

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