Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, resulting in 480,000 deaths a year. Cigarette smoking alone is responsible for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, alcohol, motor vehicle crashes, homicide, suicide, illegal drugs and fires combined. (2014 Surgeon General’s report)
The U.S. Surgeon General released a 2010 report on the health effects of tobacco smoke that reminds us that, “any exposure to tobacco smoke, even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke, is harmful.” The updated 2014 full report and fact sheets are available at surgeongeneral.gov
Tobacco issues on campus can be challenging, expensive and time-consuming. You may have heard complaints from students, faculty and staff about being exposed to secondhand smoke while walking to class or across campus.
You are probably finding it takes time and money for your staff to clean up cigarette butts and may be worried that smoking is a fire hazard and a liability for your campus. Maybe, some of your students, faculty or staff are missing days of class or work due to asthma attacks or other conditions triggered by smoke.
Other colleges have found a solution to these problems by adopting a tobacco-free campus policy.
Here are some of the reasons why:
The 2012 US Surgeon General’s report states that only 1% of smokers begin smoking after their 26th birthday, making college and university campuses a critical target for tobacco cessation and prevention efforts.
In Vermont, 20% of 18-24 year olds smoke, yet 80% of them want to quit (From 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey of Vermonters).
Cigarettes are the #1 cause of campus fires.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that it costs employers $3,383/year for each employee who smokes: $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in medical costs related to smoking. Tobacco- and smoke-free campus policies can give employers incentive and support to direct employees towards resources for cessation.
Creates a healthier environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors
Supports tobacco users who are trying to quit and helps those who have quit remain tobacco free
Reduces the number of new tobacco users by promoting the social norm of a smoke- and tobacco-free environment
The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation publishes a list of campuses that have comprehensive tobacco-free or smoke-free policies in place.
As of October 1, 2014, there were 1,477 smoke-free campuses, of which 975 were completely tobacco-free. A growing number (292) also prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on their campuses.