Frequently Asked Questions
Since August 1, 2015, SJSU is a completely tobacco-free campus.
Read on to find out how you can make SJSU healthier for everyone on campus and live a clean-air lifestyle.
- Why should SJSU adopt a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy?
Tobacco-free campus policies protect the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors by eliminating secondhand smoke on campus. Everyone will breathe easier, and this will assure equal access for individuals most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke exposure, such as those with asthma and allergies. Additionally, by adopting a 100 percent tobacco-free policy, SJSU will:
- Promote clean air, a healthy environment, and healthy behavior choices
- Save money and staff time spent cleaning cigarette litter by eliminating butts and other tobacco waste on campus
- Prepare students for smoke-free work environments (e.g., hospitals, K-12 schools, etc.)
- Prevent students from initiating smoking
- Encourage tobacco users to quit or decrease use
- Support those who have already quit using tobacco
- What does "tobacco free" mean? What areas of campus will the tobacco-free policy cover?
The new smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy at SJSU applies to all university spaces indoor and outdoor, including parking lots and private residential space. The new policy applies to all SJSU facilities, whether owned or leased. California state law already prohibits smoking in all indoor areas within 20 feet of public buildings (including colleges and universities) and in all state-owned vehicles.
This policy bans both smoking and tobacco products. “Smoking” is defined as inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe or electronic cigarette. “Tobacco product” is any item containing tobacco leaf and any product containing biologically active amounts of nicotine that can be inhaled. It does not include any product designed and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the use in treating nicotine or tobacco dependence.
- What are the smoke- and tobacco-free trends on college and university campuses?
Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable and premature death, accounting for an estimated 443,000 American deaths (or one out of every five deaths) in the United States each year. In order to counter the negative effects of tobacco on the college population, the American College Health Association (ACHA) has recommended that all colleges and universities adopt a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy.
Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at institutions of higher learning. As of January 2014, approximately 1,182 colleges in the United States are 100 percent smoke-free. Of those, 811 campuses are 100 percent tobacco-free.
In California, an increased number of public colleges are going completely tobacco-free. In January 2012, the University of California (UC) Office of the President announced that all UC-owned property would be completely tobacco-free by January 2014. More recently, the California State University (CSU) Office of the Chancellor announced its intention for a tobacco-free system in the near future. Additionally, in 2013 the Health Services Association of California Community Colleges introduced A White Paper on Tobacco Prevention and Control on the California Community Colleges to support the efforts of individual campuses and districts in adopting tobacco-free policies.
- In California, 102 public colleges and universities have significantly stronger policies than California State Law (no smoking within 20 feet of buildings).
- The University of California system, including 10 educational campuses and five medical hospitals, became 100 percent tobacco-free as of January 1, 2014 (including e-cigarettes and other nicotine products not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration FDA).
- Nationally, approximately 1,182 colleges are 100 percent smoke-free, including large universities such as the University of Kentucky, University of Michigan and the University of Oregon.
- Currently, 811 colleges are 100 percent tobacco-free, a sharp increase from 75 colleges in late 2008.
Colleges with policies allowing smoking only in designated areas or parking lots are transitioning to 100 percent tobacco-free policies.
- Colleges are increasingly considering "tobacco-free" policies over "smoke-free" policies to prevent the increase of smokeless tobacco use on campus.
- College campuses, as well as cities and counties across the state, are updating the policy definitions of "smoking" to include the operation of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and "smoke" to include vapor emitted from e-products.
- Why include e-cigarettes? Aren't they designed to help people quite smoking?
- E-cigarettes are a relatively new product with little information about their safety and effects on human health. Currently, the products are not regulated by the FDA, and it is illegal to market them as a way to quit tobacco. However, the FDA does have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. It’s a common misconception that e-cigarettes emit a harmless water vapor. New research reveals that the solution used in e-cigarettes contains toxic contaminants, and these contaminants are released into the environment when a user exhales the vapor. Furthermore, recent research is showing a drastic increase in use of e-cigarettes, especially among youths and young adults. Since e-cigarettes are misunderstood to be a devices used to quit smoking, young people are more willing to experiment with the products, which may lead to long-term nicotine addiction. Comprehensive tobacco-free policies that include e-cigarettes and other nicotine products not regulated by the FDA for cessation purposes may discourage the initiation of novelty smoking and nicotine delivery devices. More about e-cigarettes and vaping myths.
- What are the health consequences of secondhand smoke?
- Exposure to secondhand smoke is known to cause death and disease and is the third leading cause of preventable death in this country, killing over 50,000 non-smokers each year. The Surgeon General of the United States has concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and any exposure to tobacco smoke - even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke - is harmful. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found secondhand tobacco smoke to be a risk to public health, and has classified secondhand smoke as a group A carcinogen, the most dangerous class of carcinogen. Furthermore, the California Air Resources Board has categorized secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant.
- Will a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy cause conflict between the SJSU and
- The adoption of a 100 percent tobacco-free policy promotes the health and wellbeing of everyone on campus, including employees. Currently, individuals who work in outdoor areas are not provided with the same level of protection to secondhand smoke as those working indoors. A 100 percent tobacco-free policy will provide equal protection to everyone on campus. Additionally, the new policy may support those smokers who would like to quit, as well as those individuals who have already quit smoking.
- Is a tobacco-free policy a violation of civil and Constitutional rights?
- No. There is no Constitutional right to smoke or use tobacco. Tobacco users are not a category protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, nor is tobacco use a protected liberty right under the Due Process clause of the Constitution.
Why not just keep designated smoking areas, instead of going completely tobacco-free?
Designated smoking areas have many disadvantages. A study from Stanford University found that in outdoor designated areas with multiple smokers, levels of toxic air contaminants from secondhand smoke may be the same or higher than indoors, therefore, creating a hazardous environment to individuals standing in or around these areas.
Additionally, secondhand smoke is proven to travel outside of designated areas; distance depends on wind strength and direction. Designated areas have also been found to encourage tobacco use by creating a social environment for daily and non-daily tobacco users. By increasing the number of individuals smoking in one area, students are more likely to believe that more people smoke than actually do. This misperception affects the norm of smoking on campus and may also contribute to increased tobacco use. Finally, designated areas are often heavily littered and smell of toxic tobacco waste.
To date, more than 600 colleges throughout the United States have successfully adopted 100 percent smoke-free policies.
Where can I smoke?
- The new policy will prohibit the use of all tobacco products in all university spaces indoor and outdoor, including parking lots and private residential space. The policy does not include any area outside of these boundaries.
Is there cessation support available for faculty and staff members or students?
- Students can find help to stop smoking at SJSU's Student Health Center. Employee health providers each have their own cessation programs.
If I choose to continue to smoke or use tobacco and do not have enough time to step
off campus to smoke, what am I supposed to do?
- The university is aware that nicotine is a highly addictive drug and simply waiting until a long break between classes, lunchtime or after work will be difficult for some. Some may decide to use nicotine replacement products such as gum or lozenges for times that are inconvenient to smoke.
The tobacco-free policy will require that students, and faculty and staff members
step off campus to smoke. What about the personal safety of these individuals, especially
in the early morning or evening when it is dark?
- SJSU encourages that all individuals consider their safety while on or off campus. Medications such as the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, nasal spray or inhaler are options that can be considered to meet nicotine needs without leaving campus and putting yourself at any risk.
- What about the use of medical marijuana?
- Possession of a valid medical marijuana card does not permit possession or use of marijuana in campus residential facilities (e.g. apartments and residence halls) or on university property. SJSU, under Title IV, Part A of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act does not permit possession or use of marijuana on campus.
- Are clove cigarettes permitted?
- No. The use of clove cigarettes is prohibited by the Smoke and Tobacco-free Campus policy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that smoking clove cigarettes is associated with an increased risk for lung damage. See CDC information on clove cigarettes.
- Hookah smoking is often tobacco-free, so why does the new policy prohibit it?
Hookah pipes (also known as water pipes, shisha) have a reputation for being the lesser of evils when it comes to smoking options, and from certain perspectives, this is true. Smoking a hookah doesn't have to mean smoking tobacco or taking in nicotine, which are common substances associated with smoking. But hookah smoking does have its own dangers - combusted charcoal - which carries health risks even when non-tobacco shisha is used.
When charcoal is burned to create the hookah effect, it releases chemicals in the process, namely carbon monoxide (CO) and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). In addition to inhaling byproducts of the shisha, waterpipe smokers also inhale fairly large quantities of these combustion-related toxins - a hidden health risk associated with hookah smoking, even for non-tobacco shisha.
One recent study found that in a typical hookah smoking session, participants inhaled more carbon monoxide than someone who smokes a pack or more a day of conventional cigarettes. Some studies have shown that a person inhales 100-200 times more smoke (by volume) during a typical one hour hookah smoking session than when smoking one cigarette – because the hookah smoke is cooled by water, it can be inhaled more deeply and held for a longer length of time. While hookah tobacco (or non-tobacco shisha) can be bought with very trace amounts of nicotine, or even be tobacco-free, most hookah devices are solely designed for charcoal burning to be the mechanism of inhalation. Tobacco tends to burn more slowly than many of the fruit and molasses contents in non-tobacco shishas.
And so, while it may be true that you aren't inhaling tobacco smoke, the sustained burning of the charcoal carries the risk of extended exposure to these chemicals. Even at low levels of exposure, both CO and PAH have corrosive and carcinogenic properties, just like most combustion by-products.
- Does the tobacco-free campus policy prohibit the use of chewing tobacco on campus?
- Yes. The use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco products like chewing tobacco and snuff, is prohibited on all university property or in university vehicles.
- What about enforcement? How will this policy be supported by enforcement? How successful
is enforcement at other colleges?
We are an institution of higher education and education will be key to implementing this policy. We will make people aware of the tobacco and smoke-free environment through electronic messaging, signage and marketing. An explanation of the new policy will be communicated to prospective and enrolling students and 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.
Many colleges and universities find that they do not need to enforce the policy if they encourage compliance through educational campaigns. If education and peer enforcement does not result in increased compliance, SJSU does have the authority to issue citations to individuals violating the smoke-free policy. Under state law, public colleges and universities can determine if they want to fine violators and, if so, the amount of the fine; not to exceed $100. Collected funds can be allocated to include, but not limited to, the designated enforcement agency, education and promotion of the policy, and tobacco cessation treatment options.
- Does the policy apply to visitors to campus?
- Yes. Organizers and attendees at public events, such as conferences, meetings, public lectures, social events, cultural events, and sporting events using university facilities are required to abide by the tobacco-free campus policy. Organizers of such events are responsible for communicating the policy to attendees.
- How will a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy impact enrollment?
- There is no association between the adoption of a 100 percent smoke-free campus policy and a decrease in student enrollment. In fact, many colleges and universities promote a healthy and tobacco-free campus environment as a way of increasing enrollment.
- What about SJSU's neighbors?
- SJSU asks that our students, and faculty and staff members help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors that border the campus. We encourage you to respect others' property by not littering and not congregating in areas to smoke, and thus creating a cloud that others must walk through. We will be reaching out to our neighbors and informing them of the upcoming policy and encouraging open communication if a problem arises.
- What is the level of satisfaction at other colleges and universities in California
that have adopted a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy?
An increased number of colleges and universities in California are adopting 100 percent smoke-free campus policies. Strong tobacco use campus policies have found great success throughout California. [EXAMPLES + Santa Clara County] The majority of colleges that have adopted smoke-free policies have done so at the request of their students and with leadership from the Associated Students.