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Ozarks Technical Community College Celebrates 5 Years of Being Tobacco Free

On Friday Ozarks Technical Community College celebrated five years of its no-tolerance tobacco policy. KSMU's Benjamin Fry visited the smoke-free campus and files this report.

After being approved by the Board of Trustees in 1999, the tobacco-free policy went into effect in 2003.

Ty Patterson is the Director of OTC's tobacco-free policy and says it was set up for several reasons.

If anyone, including both students and faculy members, is caught using tobacco on campus grounds, they are first given a warning. Second-time offenders are issued a $15 fine or the choice of picking up trash on campus.

Repeat violations of the policy mean more fines and a meeting with the dean or faculty advisor.

Patterson says the policy met resistance leading up to its implementation.

But the month of August '03 came and went without much backlash.

Patterson says the policy was so widely accepted that the college decided to not issue tickets for the first 14 months.

This grace period may have been a factor in the policy's effectiveness.

Patterson says in 4 years, a student body of about 10,000 has only been issued 51 citations.

Students we talked to had no problem with the policy.

18-year-old Donald Venturino says he doesn't find the policy overly harsh when considering the nonsmokers who are there to learn in a healthy environment.

For April Asher, who is a mother, these rules reflect the example she is setting.

As someone who used to work where there was no such policy, Cathy Branson is relieved to now be breathing cleaner air.

In Missouri, OTC officials say they are not aware of any schools on the university level that have a tobacco-free policy.

For KSMU news, I'm Benjamin Fry.