What is the difference between a smoke-free and tobacco-free policy?
A smoke-free policy is one that limits or eliminates the use of smoke-producing tobacco. The primary concern of a smoke-free policy is secondhand smoke.
A tobacco-free policy limits or eliminates the use of any tobacco product, including, but not limited to, spit tobacco, snus, other "smokeless" products, hookah, e-cigarettes, etc. The primary concern of a tobacco-free policy is overall health of the institution.
Why go tobacco-free and not smoke-free?
• “Tobacco free” emphasizes the health of all, including the user. “Smoke free” is primarily about the health of other people (due to secondhand smoke exposure).
• Allowing smokeless/spit tobacco products implies a bystander mentality. e.g. “It is fine if you harm yourself with spit/snus/etc. tobacco. Just don’t smoke.”
• Tobacco-free campuses help change the overall societal social norm about the acceptability of tobacco use.
• Many public K-12 schools are already tobacco free. Students will be accustomed to this policy.
• Eliminating spit tobacco would reduce waste on campuses (used tobacco, tobacco containers, spit containers, spit on sidewalks, etc.).
• A smoking-only ban could inadvertently cause a rise in other tobacco usage. With no smoking on campus, students may become more aware of spit tobacco use, perceiving it as “acceptable” behavior. The message becomes, “Students here can use spit tobacco.” Students should not perceive that any tobacco use is acceptable.
• A tobacco-free policy eliminates any confusion for faculty, staff, students and visitors about what is or is not allowed on campus.
• The university can send a clear message about being a place that promotes health. Tobacco is not a safe product, and it has no place on university campuses.
• If the college/university becomes tobacco free, it could be a regional and national leader and set the standard for other universities.
• Grant funding could be affected by not having a tobacco-free campus policy. Many grants have recently added tobacco-free campus policies as part of their scoring.
• Smoke-free policies may only address cigarettes. A tobacco-free policy can be more comprehensive, prohibiting hookahs, pipes, and other devices for smoking tobacco. Thus further reducing harm from secondhand smoke and lowering fire risk.
• Going tobacco-free is a concrete step a college can take to reduce the environmental impacts associated with tobacco use.
• Tobacco-free policies prepare students to enter the workplace. Employers are increasingly seeking a tobacco-free workplace.