In an effort to help more American colleges to avoid tobacco products, the health education organization the Bacchus Network, is helping campuses to certify how far they go to get tobacco off campus.

According to a piece by Sam Petulla in Inside Higher Ed:

Colleges can be certified diamond, gold, or silver, depending on the lengths they go in order to rid their campuses and their investment portfolios of a relationship to tobacco. A diamond-rated university, for example, does not accept funding from tobacco companies or invest in them, and tobacco use is banned campuswide. The lower ratings drop the investment requirement and take a more lenient stance on campus tobacco use. A silver rating is roughly equivalent to a smoke-free campus, or one banning the use of cigarettes, cigars and other smoke-producing products. Gold and diamond indicate tobacco-free, meaning no snuff, chewing tobacco or other smokeless tobacco products.

This certification process might be rather interesting for a school like, say Duke University, which was built and embellished for years almost exclusively on tobacco money. But the Bacchus Network (which itself receives significant funding from Anheuser-Busch) doesn’t really “check up” on the campuses.

The Bacchus Network recently designated Oklahoma State University a “Gold Award winner for its tobacco-free campus policy” though OSU student Jonathan Sutton wrote in the school paper that the whole policy is a little more like, well, smoke and mirrors. While someone can be “written a citation if caught smoking within 25 feet of any school building… this was rarely enforced.”

Bacchus apparently gives these diamond, gold, or silver (purple horseshoes?) certifications based only on written commitments.

Bacchus doesn’t actually show up to verify compliance. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer