Smoke-Free University Initiative

In our ongoing effort to create an environment that is healthy for all members of our community, the University of Michigan is a smoke-free university.

This helps ensure a healthier environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The final report on implementation of the new smoke-free policy that went into effect July 1, 2011 has been approved.

The steering committee for the Smoke-free University Initiative‘s report includes 14 recommendations that define campus smoke-free boundaries, commit to treatment and support for those who choose to quit, and outline expectations for compliance. Among the recommendations:

  • All University of Michigan-Dearborn facilities, buildings, grounds, parking structure and surface lots should be smoke free. This does not include smoking in privately owned vehicles within the parking structure or surface lots, which is permitted. 
  • Peer support, supervisory oversight and voluntary compliance should be relied upon to lead to behavioral changes over time. Smokers refusing to extinguish the product or repeat offenders of the policy should be addressed through existing disciplinary or other appropriate processes.
  • UM-Dearborn should provide resources to support managers, supervisors, students, faculty, and staff with methods to address violations in a respectful manner.
  • UM-Dearborn should support faculty, staff and students in their stop-smoking efforts.
  • Leaders of the effort say the final plan was crafted after more than a year of extensive input from many in the campus and surrounding community.

View the full committee report (PDF)

Why we made the decision—and what you should know about how we’re proceeding:

  • The decision to become a smoke-free University aligns perfectly with the goals of MHealthy to improve the health of the U-M community.

  • We want to be sensitive to smokers, former smokers and never-smokers in the implementation of this policy, as well as the surrounding community. Community members are involved in the work of the committees. Since the announcement, faculty, staff and students have taken advantage of the online feedback channel and focus group to share opinions and suggestions regarding the policy.

  • This is another step along a path set in the 1987 when the university adopted a ban on smoking in buildings. Our Health System has been smoke-free since 1998 and we’ll learn from their experiences and the experiences of other colleges and universities—more than 260 campuses in the U.S. are smoke free.
  • More than 260 campuses in the United States are now smoke free, including our Big Ten counterparts, University of Iowa and Indiana University. Even campuses in states with substantial tobacco production, such as the University of Kentucky, have enacted similar policies.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Smoke-Free University Initiative

What changed?

The university became 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 did we make 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.

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?

That’s something we’ll work very hard to avoid, and it’s 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 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 reflects the smoke-free campus is Smoking on University Premises.

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