QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
The three campuses of the University of Michigan will go smoke-free on all campus property, effective July 1, 2011. Here, in a Q&A format, is an explanation of how this will work.
U-M has been smoke-free in buildings since 1987. What led to the expansion of the policy to cover all university grounds?
This step was taken as part of a broader U-M initiative, called MHealthy (http://www.hr.umich.edu/mhealthy/), to ensure a healthy overall environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors. “A healthier, smoke-free physical environment will only enhance the intellectual vigor of our campuses,” U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said when the decision was announced in April 2009. President Coleman made the decision then to give the university community two years to develop a comprehensive implementation plan.
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 also is offering a program called the MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program (MTIP) which provides free behavioral counseling for faculty and staff to quit smoking, and similar services are available for students through the University Health Service (UHS). Here is where you can get more details:
MHealthy Tobacco Treatment:
Tobacco: You can Quit!
What are the borders of the smoke-free environment?
The grounds of all three U-M campuses will be smoke free, as will the grounds of any off-campus facilities owned or leased in total by the university. The ban does not extend to the perimeter sidewalks of the U-M campuses. A perimeter sidewalk is one that runs along public thoroughfares. For example, near the central-campus Diag, smoking will be allowed along South State Street and North University, but not on any sidewalk that cuts through the Diag or between buildings.
Can I smoke in my own vehicle within the smoke-free environment?
Yes. Smoking is permitted in private vehicles parked on the U-M campus. University parking lots are included in the smoke-free campus, but the ban does not include inside vehicles parked in those lots. Smoking in U-M vehicles has been banned since 1987.
Will there be butt huts or designated smoking areas?
No. The university will not provide places for smokers to congregate. Smoking will be permitted along the perimeter sidewalks on campus and we believe that will provide those who continue to smoke with accessible areas in which to smoke.
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 brings visitors to campus has been included in the implementation planning. Organizations such as the University Musical Society, which brings thousands of concertgoers to campus each month, will reach out to its subscribers. The Michigan Unions will communicate the smoke-free campus to all of those who inquire about renting university facilities for meetings, wedding receptions and other events. Also, there will be some signs alerting visitor to the policy posted about the three campuses.
What about football tailgate gatherings in U-M parking lots?
Those will be smoke free as well. And, of course, Michigan Stadium went completely smoke free in the fall of 2010 when the expanded Big House was rededicated.
Will there be signs to tell people they can’t smoke?
There will be a limited number of signs placed at strategic locations to help visitors understand the new policy.
Does this include property that the university leases?
Yes, although implementation may need to be tailored to individual properties. If the U-M owns or leases an entire building, the building and ground will be smoke-free, just as it would be if the building were on campus. If the university leases just part of the building, we may not be able extend the smoke-free space to the grounds outside the building.
What will the U-M do with the ashtrays outside buildings?
They will be moved away from buildings and some will be relocated to the perimeter sidewalks where smoking is not prohibited.
What will the new policy mean for owners of property adjacent to campus?
We’ve had extensive conversations with business owners and other property owners adjacent to the three campuses to address their concerns about the possibility of litter being left behind by smokers. In some cases, the university will be moving cigarette butt containers to the perimeter sidewalks to help address this concern. The university is committed to monitoring the impact on adjacent properties as the smoke-free campus is implemented.
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 Office of Student Conflict Resolution (http://www.oscr.umich.edu/). For staff, the Standard Practice Guide that references smoking will be updated to reflect the smoke-free campus. Here is a link to that SPG: http://spg.umich.edu/pdf/601.04.pdf
What about exceptions to the policy?
An advisory committee will be established to consider exceptions and monitor the policy. The committee will be chaired by the university’s chief health officer and membership will include faculty, staff and student representatives and others from specific offices on campus.
Have other universities gone smoke free on the whole campus?
Yes, some as early as 2003, and the number keeps increasing. At the beginning of this year, there were at least 466 college and university campuses all across the United States that had enacted smoke-free campuses. In the Big Ten, the University of Iowa and Indiana University have gone smoke-free.
How will this change 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. 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.
What resources are there on campus to help those who want to quit smoking?
The university has a tremendous resource in the Tobacco Consultation Service, which is a part of MHealthy. The office has been helping people cope with tobacco issues for a very long time. You can find additional details here:
MHealthy Tobacco Treatment: