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For Release: August 21, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams

Office of Communications
405/271-5601

State Board of Health Urges Oklahoma Universities, Colleges and Career-Tech Centers to Adopt Tobacco-Free Campus Policies

The Oklahoma State Board of Health is encouraging all universities, colleges and career tech centers in Oklahoma to adopt tobacco-free campus policies. At their annual retreat held recently in Stillwater, the Board approved a resolution which stated that a tobacco-free campus models healthy behaviors and benefits persons of all ages by making the campus a healthier place to learn, work, live, and visit.

“Educational institutions play a special role in shaping a young person’s perceptions, beliefs, values and behaviors,” said Barry Smith, president of the State Board of Health. “Tobacco-free policies discourage the onset of tobacco use while supporting the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans trying to quit.”

Also adopted by the Board was a resolution recognizing Oklahoma State University (OSU) for implementation of a tobacco-free campus policy that became effective July 1, 2008. Dr. Lee Bird, vice president for Student Affairs at OSU, and Robin Purdie, director of the OSU Seretean Wellness Center, received the resolution on behalf of OSU President Burns Hargis. OSU is the first university in the Big 12 Conference to implement this policy.

In February 2005, the American College Health Association issued a position statement encouraging educational institutions “to be diligent in their efforts to achieve a campus-wide tobacco free environment.” In March 2008, the Oklahoma Student Government Association recommended that “all institutions for higher education in the State of Oklahoma implement policy to become a tobacco-free campus.” In May 2008, the Student Advisory Board to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education recommended that “all state-funded institutions of higher education in Oklahoma should become tobacco-free campuses,” adding that such policies “be individually implemented by each university administration.”

The list of Oklahoma universities, colleges and career tech centers with tobacco-free campus policies – effective 24 hours a day, seven days a week – includes Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Tulsa and Oklahoma City campuses), University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Francis-Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City, Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater, and Autry Technology Center in Enid.

Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death is tobacco addiction, and the vast majority of tobacco users become addicted as young people. Three-fourths of smokers want to quit and over one-half make at least one serious attempt to quit in any given year.

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