Smoke Free Initiative

Questions & Answers

Smoke Free Campus - July 2011What will change?
The university will become smoke free by July 1, 2011, including all buildings and surrounding grounds. There will not be designated smoking areas on campus. This takes us further along an important path toward a completely smoke-free environment that began long ago -- in 1987 the university adopted a ban on smoking in buildings and the Health System became smoke-free in 1998.

Why are we making this change and how will it make a difference?
There are immediate and positive health effects when any individual quits smoking. There also are organizational improvements that can accompany a change like this -- reduced absenteeism, greater productivity on the job, and reduced medical and disability costs to name a few. We're also working university-wide to promote a culture of health, and this fits into that philosophy. Just as we are trying to help people move toward other healthy behaviors through our MHealthy programs, we believe that a smoke-free environment is another strong way to encourage a healthy lifestyle. We hope that the policy will translate into more members of our community quitting smoking -- there is a high likelihood of that -- and more of the younger members of the community not starting to smoke. Both will be significant health-promoting contributions. encouraging a healthy environment also helps us address our rising health care costs.

Why address smoking and not obesity, or other health concerns?
We are addressing a range of health behaviors. The university's chief health officer tells us that up to 70 percent of all illnesses are preventable and develop from lifestyle choices so both the university and the individual benefit when we help each other reduce risks. Instituting a smoke-free campus is one of the many ways we encourage a culture of health. Other examples include Active U, MHealthy's annual physical activity challenge, ongoing fitness and weight management programs, the Understanding U website for mental health screenings and resources, and MHealthy's Good Choice program to help identify healthier food options in campus vending machines and dining locations.

Is the university requiring that people quit smoking?
No. The university is saying that smoking will not be allowed on university grounds. For those people who choose to quit smoking, the university will support them through the smoking cessation programs that have been offered for many years. MHealthy will also offer a new program called the MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program (MTIP) which provides free behavioral counseling for faculty and staff to quit smoking.

Who is involved in planning the transition?
Dr. Robert Winfield, chief health officer and director of the University Health Service, and Kenneth Warner, Ph.D., dean of the School of Public Health, chair the Steering Committee and subcommittees addressing issues and implications for student life, human resources, communications, grounds and facilities and visitors to the universityís campuses have been formed. The committee and subcommittees include representatives from all campuses, students, the local community, and smoking cessation experts. Smokers, former smokers and never-smokers are included in each of the subgroups.  The UM-Dearborn campus has formed its own committee to implement the new policy.

Are all U-M campus included in this change?
Yes. The entire university will be smoke free by July 2011. The Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses have representatives on the subcommittees and each campus will be responsible for their implementation.

What help is available for those who want to quit smoking?
The MHealthy Tobacco Consultation Service offers assistance to both UMHS patients and to employees who want to be free of tobacco addiction. These services are also available to faculty and staff through a new program called the MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program (MTIP). Offered through MHealthy, MTIP includes free behavioral counseling for employees. For students, similar services available through the University Health Service.

Could this ban displace smokers onto city property or private property to smoke?
Thatís something weíll work very hard to avoid, and itís one of the reasons we are allowing ourselves time to plan, and to do so in collaboration with members of the local community.

Have other universities gone entirely smoke free?
Yes, there are more than 260 smoke-free campuses across the country. When the universities are larger and/or more integrated into the surrounding communities, the planning they need to do becomes more complex, so we are learning from other organizations as part of our own planning process. Most recently, University of Iowa and Indiana University completed their transitions to smoke-free campuses.

Can I smoke in my own vehicle within the smoke-free environment? 

Yes. Smoking is permitted in private vehicles parked on the UM-Dearborn campus. University parking lots and structures are included in the smoke-free campus, but the ban does not include smoking inside vehicles parked in those lots.

Is smoke-less tobacco banned?
No. It is not included in the ban because those products are not combustible.

How will U-M tell visitors about the smoke-free campus?
Much of our communication effort will be focused on visitors and the off-campus community. Programs that bring visitors to campus have been included in the implementation planning. There will be signs alerting visitors to the policy posted around campus.

Will there be signs to tell people they canít smoke?
There will be a limited number of signs placed at strategic locations to help visitors understand the new policy.

How will the policy be enforced?
We are an institution of higher education and education will be key to implementing this policy. We will make people aware of the smoke-free environment through posters, signage, notices in event programs and advertising and we will seek voluntary compliance. An explanation of the smoke-free campus will be included in the orientation program for new employees and in materials distributed to all outside groups that use university facilities.

What if people don't abide by the policy?
For visitors, we believe reminders about the smoke-free campus will be important and we expect that will happen naturally. For students and employees we expect to deal with any repeat offenders in the same way that violation of any other policy of the university is handled. Repeated student smoking violations will be directed to the UM-Dearborn Student Rights & Code of Conduct. For staff, the Standard Practice Guide that references smoking will be updated to reflect the smoke-free campus.