The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 24, 2012

NEO to go completely tobacco-free in August

MIAMI, Okla. — Courtney Crosby, 18, usually heads to a table and chairs just outside her apartment building when she wants to smoke.

She was surprised last week to learn that the entire campus of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College — including her chosen smoking area — will soon become tobacco-free.

“It’s like, what? Why? It’s ridiculous,” she said Friday while sitting in the lobby of her apartment building, which is located on the edge of the campus. “My friends and I are going to have to get lawn chairs and go sit across the street.”

NEO becoming a smoke-free campus is the result of a directive from Gov. Mary Fallin, who in February signed an order prohibiting the use of all tobacco products in buildings, on land and in vehicles owned or leased by state agencies. That includes state colleges and universities.

The new policy at NEO takes effect Aug. 6. Smoking and other tobacco use will not be allowed anywhere on campus, including outdoors, in the parking lots or in campus vehicles. The current policy prohibits smoking in buildings and within 25 feet of building entrances.

Crosby, an incoming student who is taking summer classes, said she thinks the ban will make it inconvenient for her.

“There’s really not much of a reason for it that I can see,” she said.

Other students said they will appreciate the change.

Hollie Snyder, a 21-year-old student who will graduate in December, said she thinks the ban is a good idea.

“People smoke in front of doors, and you walk past it and get a whiff of it, and it’s gross,” said Snyder, who does not smoke.

Dillon Proctor, 18, of Caddo, will start his studies at NEO in the fall. A nonsmoker, he said the ban could improve the campus.

“It’ll just be a lot healthier and better campus to be around,” said Proctor, who was at NEO on Friday for 8-Man All-Star Football Week.

Jacob Mount, who also does not smoke, said he can see the viewpoint of both smokers and nonsmokers.

“It’ll be good for the kids who don’t smoke. You don’t have to take a chance with secondhand smoke, and you can stay smoke-free,” said the 18-year-old incoming student from Welch. “It’s really not convenient for the kids who do smoke. They have to walk off campus or get in their car and go off campus instead of just getting outside to smoke.”

Administrators at NEO were looking into making the change to a tobacco-free campus before Fallin’s order, said Amy Ishmael, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. A group of students had pitched the idea last fall, and the results of an online survey set up to gauge student and faculty opinions on the proposal were mostly positive, she said.

Administrators were considering putting the policy into place by the fall of 2013. Fallin’s order simply pushed that date up by one year, Ishmael said.

Tom Robertson, chief of campus police, said the new policy will be posted on signs throughout the campus. Violations will result in a warning or a citation plus a fine, he said.

Other schools

At Missouri Southern State University, tobacco products are not allowed inside buildings, according to the 2012 student handbook. Smoking is prohibited in buildings at Pittsburg State University as well, according to a list of policies available on the school’s website.

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