CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's 10 residence halls will go smoke-free this fall.

OSU has become the first school in the Oregon State System of Higher Education to ban smoking in its residence halls and cooperatives in what has become a growing trend nationally.

Nearly 2,700 students live in OSU residence halls, officials say, and only 3-4 percent indicated through surveys that they were smokers.

The residence halls were the last buildings on the OSU campus that allowed smoking.

"It's an issue of health and safety," said Paulette Ratchford, assistant director of housing. "Continuing research on the dangers of second-hand smoke made this a logical decision."

Ratchford said cigarette smoke can't be contained in an average residence hall room.

"There is a lot of smoke seepage from individual rooms into common areas," she said. "Even if students put a towel under the door, smoke blows out the window and up into the windows of the floors above."

Some cooperatives already had "self-determined" their smoke-free status several years ago, Ratchford said.

OSU officials say they don't anticipate too much adverse reaction to the decision. Ratchford said some student leaders initially were concerned that international students living in residence halls might be disproportionately affected because statistics show they are more likely to smoke.

"But in speaking with the students and their advisers, they say international students are here for the 'American experience,'" Ratchford said. "They prefer doing whatever it is all the other OSU students are doing."

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Paulette Ratchford, 541-737-0693