Frequently Asked Questions
Why Adopt a Tobacco Free Policy at Pittsburg State
Why go tobacco free?
- Pittsburg State is dedicated to providing its students with a safe and healthy academic environment. Tobacco use negatively affects the entire community and compromises Pittsburg State’s efforts in this arena.
Where did this initiative start?
- Pittsburg State students voted overwhelmingly in the spring of 2012 to move to a tobacco free campus. University administration honored these wishes by forming a tobacco task force to further explore the possibility of a tobacco free campus. This task force, after nearly a year of study and comprehensive review, offered a final recommendation to the Presidents Council which formally adopted it in the spring of 2013.
How does adopting a Tobacco Free policy clean up the environment?
- Environmental tobacco exposes bystanders to numerous harmful chemicals
- It’s estimated that cigarette butts account for 28 to 33 percent of all litter nationwide and 28 percent of the littered items washing up on beaches.
- Cigarette butts are a fire hazard, increase university maintenance expenses and can be eaten by dogs, birds and other animals
- Filters are non-biodegradable and can take up to five years to decompose
- Filters contain toxic chemicals including nicotine, benzene and cadmium which can release into the environment
Are other universities adopting tobacco policies?
- Yes. Nearly 1,400 campuses throughout the nation are now 100% smoke free. Of these, 925 are 100% tobacco-free.
Are students really at risk?
- College is a critical time in young adult development during which many lifestyles habits are formed. In 2014, the Surgeon General reported that more than 2,400 youth and young adults become regular smokers each day. Almost 90% of these smokers smoke their first cigarette by age 18. More than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke cigarettes.
Why not allow people to smoke outdoors? Is there really a health risk?
- Yes, there really is a health risk. The Surgeon General has found there is no safe level of second hand smoke. At least 70 of the chemicals in cigarette smoke are known carcinogens and secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers. Pittsburg State strives to be among the healthiest universities in the nation and it is imperative that we consider the impact of tobacco on the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, staff, visitors, volunteers and vendors.
What is and is not permitted?
What does having a Tobacco Free policy mean?
Is there a difference between smoke free and tobacco free?
- Yes. Smoke free campuses generally limit only cigarettes or combustible tobacco products. Tobacco free, which Pittsburg State has chosen, prohibits all tobacco and nicotine delivery systems, excluding nicotine replacement therapy, from being used on campus.
What is included in “tobacco?”
- Tobacco is defined as all tobacco-derived or containing products including but not limited to, cigarettes, (cloves, bidis, kreteks), electronic cigarettes (vap sticks, hookah sticks), cigars, and cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes and oral tobacco (spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff, snuss). It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products or contain tobacco flavoring. This policy will also include any newly devised tobacco or nicotine delivery products promoted by tobacco industries that are not recognized as cessation devices by the Food and Drug Administration.
Is abstaining from tobacco a condition of employment at Pittsburg State University?
- The Tobacco Free policy does not address tobacco use as a condition of employment.
Don’t I have the right to use tobacco? Does Pittsburg State have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?
Can I use smokeless tobacco?
- No. All forms of tobacco are prohibited. The health risks and environmental expenses associated with “chew” are well documented.
What about e-cigarettes? Can I use these since they’re not technically tobacco?
- E-cigarettes, Vapor sticks, hookah sticks and any other form of electronic nicotine delivery system are not permitted. There is insufficient evidence that these devices positively affect smoking and they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as smoking cessation devices. Therefore they cannot be used on the Pittsburg State University campus.
Can I use tobacco in my personal vehicle while on campus?
Is the public allowed to use tobacco products at tailgates, sporting events and special events that occur on the Pittsburg State University campus?
- Tobacco use is prohibited on university owned, operated and leased property. Pittsburg State recognized that it may take time for our community to adjust to the new policy. We appreciate the support of our campus and encourage campus leaders to step forward in a respectful and meaningful way to champion this effort. By raising awareness, you will help ensure that future generations of Gorillas will enjoy a healthy and safe campus environment.
Opportunities for Tobacco Users
Are there any resources or support groups to help students and employees quit using tobacco?
- A full listing of resources has been made available on the Tobacco Free website
Can I change the time of my break or extend it so that I have time to walk off campus to smoke?
- Breaks are timed to ensure Pittsburg State operates efficiently and meets the needs of its campus. Please refer to departmental policies and/or supervisors regarding options, if applicable.
What will the university do about people leaving the campus or going across the street into neighboring properties to smoke?
- While the Tobacco Free policy only applies to university owned, operated or leased properties, we ask that students, faculty, staff, volunteers, visitors and vendors help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors and respect properties outside the campus. Leaving campus to use tobacco or smoke does not give anyone the right to litter, loiter or trespass on private property. Property owners have the right to enforce their boundaries. Pittsburg State will actively monitor the impact on our neighbors as the Tobacco Free policy is implemented.
Handling concerns with individuals who use tobacco on campus
How will Pittsburg State enforce the tobacco free policy?
- Pittsburg State views a tobacco free campus as a shared responsibility of all of those in the campus community, tobacco users and non-users, alike. Visitors to the campus will be informed of the tobacco policy and thanked for their cooperation. University employees and students will be encouraged to talk about the policy in a positive and respectful manner.
How will the university handle employees who do not want to stop the use of tobacco products?
- Faculty, staff and students are not required to stop using tobacco products; however, they will not be permitted to use tobacco products on any university property. Just as they have done with regulations that prohibit smoking indoors, individuals will need to find ways to manage their nicotine intake in a manner that does not involve using tobacco products on campus.
What should I do if I see someone using tobacco products on campus?
- Pittsburg State takes pride in the respectful manner in which its students, faculty and staff treat one another. This same level of courtesy will be extended to tobacco users in regards to this policy. Anyone who observes a possible violation may courteously, compassionately and respectfully inform the individual of Pittsburg State’s Tobacco Free policy. For your convenience, we have created a suggested script to help you begin your conversation.
What if I ask someone to stop using tobacco on campus property and my request is ignored?
- If you choose to speak with someone about the policy and are met with resistance, you need not press the issue.
As a supervisor, what is my responsibility if I receive reports or observe an employee violating the policy?
- Employees are expected to follow all policies in order to ensure that the Pittsburg State campus is a welcoming destination for students, visitors and their co-workers. As a supervisor, you should first explain the expectations outlined in the policy and provide appropriate resources. If there are continued violations, you should identify the impact of the employee’s actions and manage it appropriately. If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to contact our Office of Human Resources for assistance.
How will people know that tobacco use is prohibited?
- Signage bearing the message “Tobacco Free Campus” will be posted at major university vehicular, pedestrian and building entrances. This signage will help communicate the expectations of the policy which will include all university property.
- Information about the policy is found on the PSU website. It has been included in appropriate documents and publications and is included in the vendor contracts. Additional information is also available in resources to use as appropriate.
What is considered university property?
- Any property that is owned, leased or operated by Pittsburg State is considered university property. This includes but is not limited to all buildings and structures; sidewalks; parking lots; walkways; and university owned, operated or leased vehicles. See map
Have other universities implemented tobacco free or smoke free policies?
- Yes. As of July 3, 2014, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation listed at least 1,372 campuses that were 100% smoke free. Of these, 938 are 100% tobacco-free, and 176 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.
Where can I find additional information about Pittsburg State’s Tobacco Free policy and its implementation?