Illinois State University
Illinois State University
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Frequently Asked Questions

When did Illinois State University become smoke-and tobacco-free?

In accordance with the Smoke-Free Campus Act, Illinois State University will go smoke- and tobacco-free on July 1, 2015. Until then the current Smoke and Tobacco Use Policy and other the applicable laws (Smoke-Free Illinois Act and School Board tobacco prohibition) must be followed.

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Who does the Smoke-Free Campus Act affect?

The Smoke-Free Campus Act will cover all students, employees, and visitors to campus. The respectful cooperation of everyone is important to ensure compliance with the University policy and all applicable state laws.

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Why did the university go smoke- and tobacco-free?

In accordance with the Smoke-Free Campus Act and applicable state laws, all state-supported institutions of higher education in Illinois are required to be smoke- and tobacco- free. In addition to complying with state law, a smoke and tobacco-free campus creates a healthier and cleaner environment to live, learn, teach, work, and play by:

  • Protecting people from unwanted and involuntary exposure to tobacco and smoke. Research has shown that there are no safe levels of exposure to second hand smoke, including outdoor smoke. Read about third hand smoke.
  • Promoting cessation and creates a supportive environment for those who are trying to reduce or quit using tobacco.
  • Creating a cleaner environment. Cigarette butts are the most common type of litter. Reducing litter helps keep our campus beautiful and decreases clean-up costs.
  • Protects the environment from tobacco-related litter. Discarded cigarette butts contain all the carcinogens, chemicals, and nicotine that make tobacco hazardous. Cigarette butts also pose a danger to wildlife, pets, and young children.

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What was the process for making this decision?

For many years, the State of Illinois and Illinois State University have taken measures to create safer, healthier, and cleaner public spaces.

  • In 2008, the State of Illinois passed the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which was the state’s first law aimed at limiting smoking in public areas. Among other things, the act prohibits smoking from places of employment as well as within 15 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes.
  • In December of 2012, Academic Senate passed a resolution set forth by the Student Government Association that prohibited smoking from the Quad and other adjacent areas.
  • In 2014, Illinois passed the Smoke-Free Campus Act to limit smoking use on all state supported universities and land.
  • View the current university Smoking and Tobacco Use Policy adopted in June of 2015.

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What areas are covered by the Smoke-Free Campus Act?

The Smoke-Free Campus Act prohibits smoking on campus. Campus includes all property, including buildings, grounds, parking lots, and vehicles that are owned or operated by a State-supported institution of higher education. View all smoke- and tobacco-free areas.

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Can people smoke or use tobacco in their own vehicles?

Smoking and tobacco use in private vehicles is allowed in unenclosed parking lots; however, smoking and tobacco use outside of vehicles in university owned or operated parking lots. Parking garages are considered enclosed structures and smoking where smoking is prohibited.

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Can people smoke or use tobacco in university-owned vehicles?

Smoking and tobacco use in university-owned and operated vehicles is strictly prohibited.

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How will people know where they can and cannot use smoke or use tobacco?

All campus-owned and operated property, both inside and out, is smoke- and tobacco-free. An online map is available and signs will be posted throughout campus. <link to map>

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Will there be designated smoking or tobacco use areas on campus?

No. All university owned and operated property will be smoke-and tobacco-free. The purpose of the new law and university policy is to create a health-supporting community optimal for living, learning, teaching, working, and playing. The state law does not allow for a smoking area. In addition, smoking zones and perimeter policies have not been found to be effective or enforceable. Smoking shelters are expensive to construct and maintain. Campuses with full smoke-free policies have reported fewer problems with compliance than policies that include smoking areas.

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What about smoking and tobacco use at football games, concerts, or other public events?

All events occurring on campus-owned or operated property will be smoke- and tobacco-free, as required by state law. This will be communicated as much as possible at all public events in an effort to inform the entire campus community, including visitors.

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Do I have to quit smoking or using tobacco?

The Smoke Free Campus Act does not require individuals to stop using tobacco or smoking. However, it is expected that all tobacco and cigarette users will comply with the prohibition on campus. Repeated violations may result in disciplinary sanctions or action, and/or fines. However, most smoke- and tobacco-free universities report respectful compliance of their smoke- and tobacco-free policies, and we have no doubt that the Illinois State University community will do the same.

In addition, even though it is not required, if you are a tobacco-user interested in quitting there are many resources available to assist your efforts.

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What should I do if I see someone violating the Smoke Free Campus Act?

You are not required or obligated to enforce the policy. However, a respectful reminder is a great way to alert someone of our smoke- and tobacco-free campus. An example of how to politely approach someone is:

“Hello. I just wanted to remind you that our campus recently went smoke- and tobacco-free and I don’t want you to get into trouble. Would you please respect our policy and put your cigarette out (or other tobacco product) and dispose of it in the nearest trash can? Thank you very much for making our campus healthier and cleaner.”

If you are interested in learning more ways to help us inform people about the policy, consider becoming an ambassador

If you are not comfortable approaching someone who is violating the tobacco-free policy, you can fill out the Contact Us form or go through one of the policy enforcement methods detailed below.

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How is the Smoke-Free Campus Act enforced?

The Smoke-Free Campus Act will be enforced in a variety of ways; however, the most important aspect of enforcement is the respectful compliance of the entire Illinois State University community. We understand that it takes time to gain full compliance with a new policy and to adjust behaviors. Therefore, communication and education will be ongoing. Enforcement efforts include:


  • Beginning in April of 2015, the university will launch a comprehensive communication campaign to inform current, incoming, and potential students; current, incoming, and potential employees; and campus visitors about our cleaner, healthier campus. Repeated and continuous communication is vital to the success of this policy.
  • A smoke- and tobacco- free campus map is posted on the smoke- and tobacco-free campus website. This map helps people know how to leave campus if they wish to smoke. It also helps building managers, supervisors, resident directors, and others help people comply with the policy.
  • Smoke- and Tobacco-free Campus Ambassadors: ambassadors are a group of specially trained students and employees that can approach policy violators to make sure they are aware of the new smoke- and tobacco-free campus policy. Training is conducted by Health Promotion and Wellness staff. If you are interested in becoming an ambassador, please email

Disciplinary Measures
In cases of repeated, purposeful, and disrespectful noncompliance, the following disciplinary actions may be taken:

  • Students will be referred to the office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution office for violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Employees will be referred to their supervisor or Human Resources.
  • In rare and extreme cases, fines or citations may be issued.

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What is the university doing for students and/or employees who want to quit using tobacco products or smoking?

There are a variety of resources available to students and employees who wish to quit using tobacco.

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Some people may have a hard time getting through the day without smoking or using tobacco. What is the campus doing to help them?

It is up to individuals to determine the best course of action that works for them and complies with the all applicable policies and laws. We advise talking to your healthcare provider to see if nicotine replacement therapy may be helpful if you are concerned about this.

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Can I use e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes, also called vapes or vapor cigarettes, are prohibited under the Smoke-Free Campus Act.

E-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA and there is little research on the chemicals inhaled by the user as well as the effects on those around an e-cigarette user. Most public health agencies discourage the use of e-cigarettes including the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, US Food and Drug Administration, World Health Association, American College Health Association, Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and more.

The tobacco industry heavily markets e-cigarettes as a cessation device, even though they have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. If you are interested in lessening your tobacco use, please talk to your health care provider about safe ways to do so.

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Isn't smoking and tobacco use a personal right?

Tobacco is a legal product for adults over 18; however, it remains one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. Moreover, smoke- and tobacco-free policies mitigate the effects of second and third hand smoke on non-tobacco users as well as the environmental effects of tobacco-related litter.

A smoke- and tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use entirely; it establishes where use can occur in accordance with state law. This change supports the rights of all people on campus to enjoy a healthier and cleaner environment to live, learn, teach, work, and play.

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Are other universities smoke- and/or tobacco-free?

Yes! In addition to the Illinois institutions of higher education covered under the Smoke Free Campus Act, Illinois State University will join more than 700 colleges and universities throughout the nation with smoke-free and/or tobacco-free policies.

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Is secondhand smoke really that big of a problem?

Secondhand smoke, also called involuntary smoking or passive smoking, occurs when a non-smoking person inhales smoke from burning tobacco or smoke that has been exhaled by people smoking. Second hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 70 that are known to cause cancer.

Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Closer to home, an estimated 2,900 Illinois citizens die each year from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer.
  • There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be harmful to health.

The 2006 Surgeon General's report found that even brief exposures to secondhand smoke may have adverse effects on the heart and respiratory systems and increase the severity of asthma attacks, especially in children.

Recent research indicates that people inhaling smoke at an outdoor café or other outside venue can breathe in wisps of smoke that are many times more concentrated than normal background air pollution levels.

Aside from the risk to the general campus community, secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous for people with cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and certain allergies, older adults, pregnant women, and children. The campus houses several laboratory daycares and schools, as well as hosting a myriad of summer camps.

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Is smoking and tobacco-related litter really that big of a problem?

Yes. Our grounds workers spend hours picking up cigarette butts in order to keep our campus clean and beautiful. Banning tobacco use will not only lessen litter, but will also protect the environment from tobacco-related chemicals from improperly discarded materials.

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I have ideas or concerns about the Smoke Free Campus Act. Who should I contact?

There are multiple ways to provide feedback:

  1. If you are interested in providing feedback to the state about the Smoke Free Campus Act, please contact your local state representative.
  2. Submit your thoughts or questions to the Smoke Free Campus Task Force via the Contact Us form on this site.
  3. Students may send concerns to the Student Government Association.
  4. Employees may contact Academic Senate or their senate representative with concerns.

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I am interested in helping with smoke- and tobacco-free efforts on campus. Who should I contact?

Please contact the Smoke-Free Task Force at for information on becoming trained as an ambassador. Ambassadors are trained by Health Promotion and Wellness staff to be able to approach people not complying with the smoke- and tobacco-free laws in a respectful manner.

2018-09-25T14:40:00.812-05:00 2018