Penn State to adopt tobacco-free policy across all campuses

April 19, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State today (April 19) announced that the University will move to become tobacco and smoke‐free across all campuses beginning with a launch in fall 2018. The use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, all nicotine delivery devices and other tobacco products will be prohibited across all University-owned or leased properties, facilities and vehicles.

As part of Penn State’s strategic priority to enhance health and wellness, the University is committed to the health and well-being of its students, employees and visitors. Penn State is the 11th school in the Big Ten Conference to implement such a policy.

“The health of our faculty, staff and students is a top priority for the University, and this is an important step toward providing a safe and clean learning and working environment,” said President Eric J. Barron. “I am pleased to announce this policy change, which was a true collaboration and recommendation from our students, faculty, staff and administration.”

The new tobacco-free policy will allow nonsmokers to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. Simultaneously, campuses will offer support for individuals who are current tobacco users and those who may be working toward quitting. More information about University-supported resources and programs will be forthcoming. 

“According to the World Health Organization, cigarette smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable disease and premature death worldwide,” said Linda LaSalle, director of Health Promotion and Wellness. “This policy is an example of the University’s commitment to promote healthy behaviors and advocate for improvements in the overall wellness for all community members and for those visiting our campuses.”

Penn State has been engaged in the examination of smoking on campus since 1986 when the first smoking policy and guideline was created. In recent years, an increased discussion among the Penn State community, including student-led awareness and survey efforts, indicated a need to evaluate University policies. 

In 2015, the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) surveyed the University Park student population regarding opinions about smoking and tobacco use, which resulted in a report that was presented to President Barron in early 2016. The report, which recommended a smoke free university, was shared with the University Faculty Senate Committees on Student Life and Faculty Benefits. In October 2016, the University Faculty Senate approved a motion  sponsored by these two committees, recommending the University form a task force dedicated to exploring a new approach and endorsing the UPUA proposal. In November 2016, the UPUA received a grant to explore smoke-free initiatives as part of the CVS Health Foundation/American Cancer Society Tobacco-Free Generation Initiative (TGFCI). In fall 2017, the task force made a final recommendation to President Barron, and the University Faculty Senate voted in support of a tobacco-free campus policy.

Tobacco use for the purposes of cultural or religious practices, theatrical performances and research will be exempt from this policy. In addition, smoking or the use of tobacco will be allowed inside closed personal vehicles that are parked on Penn State property.

The new policy does not apply to Penn State employees currently represented by unions, although voluntary compliance will be encouraged. In addition, the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the Penn State College of Medicine have been smoke-free since 2007 and the policy at these locations will not be impacted by this change.

The new tobacco-free policy will be an update to policy AD32, which outlines the University’s current smoking guidelines. An updated policy and a website with more information will be forthcoming in fall 2018. Rollout of this new policy will begin in fall 2018 and will be fully implemented starting Jan. 1, 2019.

“We hope that the entire Penn State community will champion this policy by helping to communicate, educate and provide support to their peers and colleagues,” Barron added.

Students, faculty and staff with questions or concerns about this forthcoming policy can email for more information.  

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 28, 2018