Then & Now: How LB’s Campus Developed New Smoking Policy

Image Courtesy Tobacco.Stanford.Edu

While walking towards Takena Hall before your day of classes you may have noticed a designated smoking area or two in the parking lot. Has it always been like this?

Around 50 years ago there wasn’t such a thing as designated smoke areas. When you walked into a classroom there would be big glasses, wild hair, and puffs of smoke coming from students and teachers during lectures.

In 1981, Oregon legislation passed the Indoor Clean Air Act which prohibited smoking inside public buildings. This was to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke. In 2009, the Indoor Clean Air Act had some modifications that included banning smoking within 10 feet of public doorways. After this ban, colleges everywhere had to make arrangements for the students who partake in smoking.

“They [Linn County Department of Health] came out here and they told us, ‘If we find cigarette butts anywhere close to your doors, you’re going to get cited,’” said Marcene Olson, Director of Public Safety at LBCC. “That’s when we pushed shelters farther out away from the buildings and got a lot more strict about making sure people were there.”

Oregon State University has gone a little further than LBCC with smoking policies; they’ve implemented a full campus ban. The average cigarette smoker starts before the age of 26, making smoke-free and tobacco-free policies at universities and colleges important, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). A full campus may be ideal for the health of students on campus, but it’s easier said than done.

“We [LBCC] haven’t gone that far because we don’t think we could really control it, and I know they can’t control it. They get complaints all the time.” says Olson.

“Designated smoking areas are great, we don’t need to be able to smoke anywhere,” says Arron Morris, a student at LBCC, when asked what his reaction would be if a full campus ban was implemented, “I have a friend who has dangerously low blood pressure and his doctor informed him to keep smoking, it’s like the safest option for him. It can be a little off putting or almost discriminatory to have a full campus ban.”

There was a time where smoking tobacco was not seen as a potential health risk, and doctors would even go as far as recommending it to patients. From the 1930s to the 1950s, advertisers used the phrase “doctors recommended” to sell more cigarettes. Back then it was only seen as a product to give you a smoker’s cough, but lung-cancer or heart-disease were never considered.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that things have altered quite a bit since then.

During the 1950s was when this change slowly started taking off. The study that jump-started this switch was conducted by E. Cuyler Hammond and Daniel Horn; scientists working for the American Cancer Society. In January of 1952, they began their study, gathering information that could connect smoking habits with lung cancer and higher death rates.

To do this they collected 22,000 volunteers across 10 states to follow men on their past and current smoking habits. Each volunteer was assigned to 5 to 10 men from ages 50 to 60, which added up to a total of 188,000 men being monitored.

Every few months the volunteers followed up with their assigned men to note whether they were dead, alive, or unavailable. Hammond and Horn then collected the death certificates on the deceases. After only 20 months of this study, they came to what was a clear conclusion.

“It was found that men with a history of regular cigarette smoking have a considerably higher death rate than men who have never smoked or men who have smoked only cigars or pipes,” wrote Hammond and Horn in their publication of their research on August 7, 1954 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The American Cancer Society worked off of this study for years to come, which led to the information we have today.

This new knowledge made the U.S. Congress raise their heads. They implemented the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, which required cigarette companies to print warnings on their products packaging. Phrases in 1965 read as, “CAUTION: CIGARETTE SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH,” and they then shifted the wording due to the Public Health Smoking Act of 1969 to, “WARNING: THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT CIGARETTE SMOKING IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.”

Today the policies in place require warnings to take up at least 20% of the visible packaging and 30% of the sides of the product depending on their size and shape. These regulations are also enforced on all non-smoke tobacco products; not just cigarettes.

With all of these health-threatening factors to tobacco, it’s understandable why campuses have gone through the changes we have seen over the last 50 years or so.

“It has progressed, a lot more people are sensitive to smokers, cause there’s just less smokers now.” says Olson.

Many people have struggles with where to begin when it comes to quitting smoking. Below are a few resources to look into if you’re interested.


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