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Frequently Asked Questions 

Why is the tobacco-free college program important? 

Young people ages 18 – 24 have the highest rates of tobacco use. The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report states that 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by age 18 and 99% start by age 26. On any given day, more than 2,500 youth and young adults who have been occasional smokers will become regular smokers. One out of three young adults under the age of 26 is a smoker. 
What influences young adults to start the use of tobacco?
The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report states young adults are influenced to begin tobacco use by social, physical and environmental influences.

Why are tobacco-free policies important?

The use of tobacco products increases the likelihood of disease, disability and early death. Increased secondhand smoke exposure on college campuses also subjects non-smokers to significant health risks. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, and at least 250 of them are harmful to your health. There is hardly a part of the human body that’s not affected by the chemicals in tobacco. The bottom line: choose not to use tobacco and do not allow anyone to smoke around you. 

What types of tobacco-free policies are legally allowed on NC campuses? 

North Carolina community colleges and and private colleges have the clear authority to prohibit all tobacco use on their entire campus property as well as college-related events. The UNC system universities currently only have the authority to prohibit tobacco use 100 linear from campus buildings.

Are smoke-free policies or designated smoking area policies just as effective as a 100% tobacco-free policy?

No. The problems associated with tobacco use are not limited to cigarettes. We know that the use of spit tobacco is increasing among North Carolina’s young adults. Spit tobacco is a leading cause of cancers of the mouth, gum and tongue. Furthermore, spit tobacco leaves unpleasant reminders throughout campus whenever users spit on the ground. Other forms of tobacco use – such as bidis and hookahs – are also dangerous to your health as well as habit-forming. 

Do campus tobacco policies take away a person’s right to use tobacco?

No. Campus alcohol and firearm policies also regulate the use of legal products for the protection of the larger university community. Smoking not only harms the smoker, it also harms the breather. Campus tobacco use policies promote the campus as a safe place to live, study, and work. 

Aren’t college students adults who can make their own decisions about tobacco use?

Just as a college student can make their own decisions about tobacco use, colleges and universities have a right to make decisions about tobacco use on their campuses. These institutions also have an obligation to provide a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. This includes curtailing the use of known carcinogens such as secondhand smoke.  As a place of employment and worksite too, they also have the right to prohibit and regulate tobacco use for the benefit of their employees. 

What steps are involved in passing a tobacco-free policy on campus?

You can start the process of passing a tobacco free policy on your campus in just a few steps using our easy to follow tools and resources. 
Step One: Conduct a policy assessment.
Step Two: Find and educate allies.
Step Three: Determine culture/perceived notions of tobacco use and the desire for a tobacco-free policy.
Step Four: Use our model tobacco policy to help get your started.
Step Five: Develop an implementation plan.
Step Six: Prepare for a Board of Trustees meeting.
Step Seven: Present the policy proposal to the Board of Trustees.
 
More in-depth detail about the steps involved in passing a tobacco free policy can found at this website under Policy Adoption. 

What are the components of a tobacco-free campus compliance plan?

Most people are willingly to comply with a campus tobacco policy IF they know what the expectations are. Therefore, the best way to prevent policy violations is to publicize and communicate the policy often and through a variety of ways. Consideration around compliance should be woven into all phases of policy development, communication, implementation, and monitoring. 

Where do I or a friend find help on quitting the use of tobacco?

Quitting can be hard. You may have already tried to quit before. But you can double your chances of quitting for good by reaching out to QuitlineNC. QuitlineNC is free of charge and is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-Quit-Now or 1-800-784-8669.

How do I become more involved with the tobacco-free college movement?

To become more involved with the tobacco-free college movement contact the Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch, NC Division of Public Health 919 707-5400. 


  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Smoke Free NC
  • QuitlineNC