COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Board of Regents voted unanimously on Monday to approve a resolution that recommends a ban on smoking on all public college campuses in Ohio.
If adopted, smokers would have to walk off campus in order to light up.
"It's the right thing to do do," Regents' Chairman James Tuschman said. "Statistics prove that a tobacco-free campus significantly curbs the smoking habits of students, faculty and staff to make campuses healthier environments."
Each university's or college's board of trustees will decide whether to ban tobacco on campus. The resolution, which was initially discussed following a presentation by Dr. Toby Cosgrove, chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic at the May meeting of the Ohio Board or Regents, is supported by Chancellor Jim Petro.
"I began smoking in college and continued to smoke for 40 years. It has adversely affected my health," said Petro, who was diagnosed in 2009 with laryngeal cancer that could have been caused by smoking. He is cancer-free now.
Laura Massie, a spokesperson for the University of Akron, said UA will take the smoking ban recommendation under consideration and the issue could be discussed at the next board of trustees meeting on Aug. 8.
Eric Mansfield, Executive Director of University Media Relations at Kent State released the following statement: "We acknowledge the recent resolution from the Ohio Board of Regents with regards to banning tobacco on campus. We remain committed to the wellness and health of all who come to our campus. We will be raising this issue with our campus community and the board and seeking their input."
The suggested smoking ban is sparking heated debate on college campuses between smokers and non-smokers.
"I totally agree with it. People choose to smoke. People do not choose to breathe. I don't want to be exposed to other people's cancer-causing carcinogens," said Jessica Smith, 29, a University of Akron graduate student from Olmsted Falls.
"It's one of the last freedoms we have is to be able to smoke outdoors. There are pretty much designated smoking areas around the campus, so if you want to avoid the smoke, you're able to do that. It would take kind of a lot to get me to not smoke a cigarette on campus," said Patrick Terry, 23, a UA student from Hudson.
At least seven Ohio campuses have enacted policies banning the sale of cigarettes and smoking anywhere on campus including Miami University, Hocking College, and the Health Sciences Campus at the University of Toledo.
Ohio currently has a statewide ban that does not permit smoking in any public places or workplace. Ohio citizens approved the ballot issue in Nov. 2006, with 2.2 million voters supporting the ban.
You'll hear more reaction from college students about the smoking issue on NewsChannel5 at 6 p.m.