The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Snuffing Out Smoking on Campus

no-smokingEach year, on the third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout by encouraging individuals to quit smoking. According to the organization, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S., yet 42 million Americans (nearly 1 in 5 adults) still smoke cigarettes.

Not surprisingly, tobacco use by employees costs employers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in direct medical costs and lost productivity. One recent study found that smokers cost their employers, on average, around $6,000 more per year than nonsmokers.

Many employers have nonsmoking policies in place for the worksite, and some have implemented surcharges or higher insurance premiums for employees who smoke. Many utilize smoking cessation programs to provide resources and support to those who want to quit.

However, higher ed institutions still struggle with how best to discourage smoking on campus. Although buildings and common areas may be designated as no smoking, most colleges and universities are not truly tobacco-free, as they do not have the legal authority to ban tobacco use in public spaces. This means institutions must get creative in how they encourage and promote a tobacco-free campus.

St. Francis College’s approach is a great example of how institutions can use campus culture and institutional values to influence behavior and drive action around promoting a tobacco-free campus.

So, on this Great American Smokeout day, we’d like to give three cheers to St. Francis and all the other institutions that are finding creative ways to support and encourage campus community members to kick the habit!

Is your college or university participating in the Great American Smokeout on November 20? In what ways does your institution encourage a tobacco-free campus? Do you have a campus smoking policy you’d be willing to share? If so, e-mail, and we’ll add it to the CUPA-HR Knowledge Center!