Frequently Asked Questions

What is the reason for Ohio University going smoke and tobacco-free?

Ohio University strives to foster a healthy and productive environment for everyone on its campus. Research and recommendations from the Board of Regents, The American College Health Association, and the Surgeon General encouraged us to move forward in our smoke and tobacco-free initiative. After providing two surveys in two years, a majority of the respondents were supportive of initiating a smoke and tobacco-free campus. The smoke and tobacco-free policy also encourages a cleaner and greener campus while preparing our students for future tobacco-free environments.

What does “smoke and tobacco-free” mean?

Smoking or use of any tobacco product, including e-cigs*, will be prohibited on Ohio University’s campus.

*The use of e-cigarettes will be revisited should they receive FDA approval.

Isn’t it my right to use tobacco? Does OHIO have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?

A smoke and tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely states where use can and cannot occur. The University has a responsibility to establish policies that positively affect the health and wellbeing of all students, faculty, staff, visitors, vendors, patients, and volunteers.

What is included in tobacco products?

All nicotine, tobacco-derived or containing products, and plant based products including, but not limited to, cigarettes (e.g., clove, bidis, kreteks), electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, hookah-smoked products, and oral tobacco (spit and spit less, smokeless, chew, snuff).

Are there any exceptions to this policy?

Exceptions include FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gum, inhalers, and lozenges. Tobacco use for controlled research or for educational, clinical, or religious ceremonial purposes with the prior approval of the dean or director responsible for the facility will also be considered as exceptions.

Aren't e-cigarettes better than regular cigarettes? Why are they included in the ban?
  • Great health risks are posed by e-cigarette use. These risks not only include nicotine addiction, but the risks associated from an unregulated product. From the website: “When FDA conducted limited laboratory studies of certain samples, FDA found significant quality issues that indicate that quality control processes used to manufacture these products are substandard or non-existent. FDA found that cartridges labeled as containing no nicotine contained nicotine and that three different electronic cigarette cartridges with the same label emitted a markedly different amount of nicotine with each puff.”
  • From a recent study (Aug 2014) by the Cleveland Clinic: "despite the finding in this analysis that humectants (such as propylene glycol) seem safe to inhale, repeated inhalation of propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin is known to cause airway irritation. No long-term data is available on the overall effects of e-cigs on the lungs. In particular, the effects in people with respiratory diseases are still unknown."
  • Contrary to popular belief, e-cigarette vapor is not “non-toxic.” According to a State Health Officer’s Report on E-Cigarettes, “Mainstream and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol has been found to contain at least ten chemicals that are on California’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, including acetaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, lead, nickel, nicotine, N-nitrosonornicotine, and toluene.”


California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program, State Health Officers Report on E-Cigarettes: A Community Health Threat, Sacramento, California 2015

“E-Cigarettes Questions and Answers” FDA Consumer Updates. United States Food and Drug Administration. 2010.

Seballos, Raul. "New Research: E-Cigs Safer Alternative to Regular Cigarettes" Health Hub from The Cleveland Clinic. Web. 14 Aug 2014.

What are the boundaries of the University for the purposes of defining University property?

For this policy, the University community will be defined as facilities, property, and grounds used to carry out the mission of the University. This extends to sidewalks adjacent to University buildings and grounds.

Can I use tobacco products in the parking garages and/or in my personal vehicle?

No. Tobacco use is prohibited on Ohio University campus, including operated parking areas, structures, and both inside and outside of vehicles while on OHIO property.

Why can we not have designated smoking areas on campus?

After much consideration from reviewing input from tobacco users, survey results, and benchmarked institutions, there will be NO designated smoking/tobacco use areas. The goal of this policy is to make Ohio University a healthy place to live, work, and learn. Also, designated smoking areas have been found not to work on other campuses. For example, tobacco users do not stay in designated areas (e.g., OHIO’s previous smoking policy).

Where can I go to smoke or use tobacco products?

Any place outside of Ohio University property. This includes any city sidewalks that are not in front of Ohio University property. Keep in mind that we are committed to being good neighbors. Please continue to demonstrate respect for others and the environment. Be aware of your impact on others and dispose of your tobacco litter in appropriate receptacles.

How can I help a visiting family member or friend who uses tobacco?

First, you can inform them before they visit, so they will be prepared. If your friend or family member needs to use tobacco during their visit, help them identify areas off campus where they can use tobacco and dispose of it properly. You can also support their interests in quitting by directing them to the online cessation resources on our smoke and tobacco-free website. Please thank your family and friends for respecting our policy!

What do I do if I see someone smoking or using tobacco products on campus?

Each member of the University community will be responsible for respectfully informing or reminding others of the policy if coming upon someone smoking or using tobacco. You are asked to approach the person in a kind, respectful way and let them know Ohio University is a smoke and tobacco-free campus. Sample scripts and handouts for helping to support compliance are available on the Tools & Downloads page. A list of resources for tobacco users if they are interested in quitting can be found on the Cessation Resources page.

Can I go off campus during my breaks to smoke?

Yes, employees can leave campus during scheduled breaks, but should be mindful of the length of their breaks in accordance with the University’s policy.

What is the University going to do to assist students/employees who want to quit using tobacco products?

OHIO is committed to assisting smokers and tobacco users if they choose to quit or cease use while on campus. Research indicates that it can take multiple attempts to quit and therefore, the University must support these attempts, including cessation programs, support groups, and nicotine replacement therapy. Information about these resources can be found on the Cessation Resources page.

Does the Smoke and Tobacco-Free policy apply at University sanctioned events or sporting events?

Yes. The Smoke and tobacco-free OHIO Policy prohibits tobacco use on University property, including sports stadiums and fields. Ohio University recognizes that becoming a smoke and tobacco-free campus requires a culture shift and it will take time for the community to adjust.

Is there state/federal support for OHIO becoming smoke and tobacco-free?

The Ohio Board of Regents passed a resolution in 2012 encouraging higher education institutions to become smoke and tobacco-free. The US Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a national initiative to eliminate tobacco use on college campuses. It is expected that more US universities will work towards becoming smoke and tobacco-free.

How will people know Ohio University is now smoke and tobacco-free?

Every effort will be made to communicate our smoke and tobacco-free policy to the entire OHIO community and all visitors to our campus. Besides the OHIO smoke and tobacco-free website, clear signage on campus and in campus buildings, online and print articles, social media campaigns, and announcements at campus events are just some of the on-going educational and promotional efforts.

Learn about how tobacco hurts our health, our environment, and more -- and what you can do about it.


The basic facts about tobacco and nicotine-- first-hand effects.

Tobacco use is known to cause cancer in various different parts of the body, including the lungs, pancreas, mouth, and throat. According to the CDC website, "smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and what they contain."  Tobacco use by smoking is also a known contributor to heart disease, stroke, COPD, and issues with fertility and pregnancy. 

Nicotine is the most addictive compound in tobacco products. The CDC reports "research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol."

For more from the CDC website, visit Smoking and Tobacco Use Basic Information.

"Tobacco kills up to half of its users...Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century. If current trends continue, it may cause one billion deaths in the 21st century." ~ World Health Organization (WHO) on Tobacco.

For more from the WHO website, visit Tobacco Health Topic.

What is the impact of tobacco litter on the environment?

There is a widespread belief that cigarettes are biodegradable. Not true. The ingredients in cigarettes affect our water and our wildlife. According to, "cigarette butts are the number one littered item on US beaches and roadways." For a download or brief video visit Truth Initiative.

"About 95% of cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic which does not quickly degrade and can persist in the environment." Learn about Keep America Beautiful's Cigarette Litter Prevention Program.

How dangerous is secondhand smoke?

The U.S. Surgeon General has stated that no amount of secondhand smoke is safe.

Some of the major health conditions caused by secondhand smoke are cancer, strokes, and cardiovascular disease.  The CDC reports "since the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report, 2.5 million adults who were nonsmokers died because they breathed secondhand smoke."

According to the World Health Organization website, "worldwide, more than 600 000 deaths per year are caused by second-hand smoke."

What is third-hand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is generally considered to be residual nicotine and other chemicals left on a variety of indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. According to, this residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix. Thirdhand smoke also resides in clothing. An asthmatic individual hugging someone with thirdhand smoke on their clothes from earlier smoking or earlier second-hand smoke exposure can suffer from an asthma attack.

For more information visit the Mayo Clinic website on thirdhand smoke.

Why is the production of tobacco a human rights issue in the U.S.?

Besides for the well known health conditions associated with tobacco use, those who work in the tobacco fields suffer immediate and long term consequences from the effects of nicotine exposure. In addition, our current U.S. government allows children as young as 12 to work in the tobacco fields. In a May 2014 article in Human Rights Watch published online, it was reported "the world’s largest tobacco companies buy tobacco grown on US farms, but none have child labor policies that sufficiently protect children from hazardous work."

For the Human Rights Watch article visit US: Child Workers in Danger on Tobacco Farms.

See more info in the youtube video MADE IN THE USA: Child Labor & Tobacco.

What is Relay for Life and how can I get involved?

Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's organized community walk fundraiser. It is a celebration of life and a way to also honor loved ones who have lost their lives to cancer. For updates on this event, visit the Relay For Life event page.

More information is available on the Relay For Life of Greater Athens Facebook page.