Cleveland Clinic CEO could influence Ohio colleges to ban smoking

If Ohio’s public colleges end up outlawing on-campus smoking, frustrated and youthful nicotine addicts wishing for a quick puff between classes should point their fingers squarely in the direction of Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove.

Long an advocate of the “personal responsibility” brand of healthcare — see his earlier comments wishing he could stop hiring obese workers — Cosgrove has recently set his sights on tobacco use at universities. Many nicotine addicts first take up the habit in college, Cosgrove reasons, and banning on-campus smoking would decrease the likelihood that college students begin smoking in the first place.

Cosgrove has previously complained that top university officials met his smoke-free pleas with indifference, but he’s now found a willing audience with the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees higher education in the state.


The chairman of the Board of Regents told Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer that he would introduce a resolution asking colleges to ban tobacco on campuses, calling the move “the right thing to do.” Cosgrove influenced the move when he shared his views at a Board of Regents meeting late last month.

For colleges to go tobacco-free, each individual schools’ leadership would have to pass resolutions.

That Cosgrove is leading the charge against on-campus tobacco isn’t a surprise. He’s one of the health industry’s most outspoken opponents of smoking who backed a controversial ban in 2007 on hiring smokers at the Clinic.

With his strong public crusade against smoking, it appears Cosgrove will continue to be viewed as a paternalistic meddler by smokers (and libertarians) — and perhaps as a hero by those who enjoy breathing smoke-free air.

 [Photo from flickr user khawkins04]

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