Penn State adopts updated smoking and tobacco policy

October 16, 2018

Penn State is now smoke- and tobacco-free. The University updated policy AD32 this fall to prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco in and on all University owned or leased properties, facilities and vehicles, and launched the informational website tobaccofree.psu.edu this week.

“We encourage the Penn State community to adapt to the updated smoking and tobacco policy and to spread the word to their peers and visitors to the University,” said Frank T. Guadagnino, vice president for administration, Penn State. “This policy change reflects our commitment to the health and wellness of our faculty, staff, students and guests.”

The new smoking and tobacco policy will allow nonsmokers to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Simultaneously, the University will offer support for students and employees who are current tobacco users and those who may be working toward quitting. Penn State is the 11th school in the Big Ten Conference to implement such a policy. A task force comprised of members from across the Penn State community — including students, faculty and staff — recommended the policy change.

According to the updated policy, smoking includes the burning of any type of lit pipe, cigar, cigarette, or any other smoking equipment, whether filled with tobacco or any other type of material. Tobacco is defined as all tobacco-derived or containing products, including and not limited to cigarettes (e.g., clove, bidis, kreteks, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos), hookah smoked products, pipes and oral tobacco (e.g., spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff) and nasal tobacco. It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products, contain tobacco flavoring or deliver nicotine. Products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when used for cessation, are not considered tobacco under this policy.

“This policy change is the result of extensive work and collaboration between students, faculty, staff and community members across Penn State. We are excited for this change to enhance the health of our University community,” said Linda LaSalle, director of health promotion and wellness, Penn State.

Smoking and tobacco use for the purpose of research or cultural or religious practices will be exempt from this policy. In addition, smoking and tobacco use are permitted in personal vehicles on Penn State properties.

The updated policy will not be enforced against Penn State employees currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement, although voluntary compliance is strongly 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.

Penn State has been engaged in the examination of smoking on campus since 1986 when the first smoking policy and guideline were 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 smoking and tobacco-free campus policy.

More information and resources, including a toolkit to assist in the implementation of this policy, visit tobaccofree.psu.edu.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 18, 2018