Tobacco and Vape-Free Campus


Dear campus Community,

During the past year, a representative college sub-committee has been developing a proposal to make our campus tobacco-free. After a great deal of research, campus outreach, community input and discussion in open forums, the recommendations were presented to me in late spring 2018. The recommendations provide a path to move the campus toward a healthy community for all, but to do so in a way that respects all members of the community.

Beginning July 1st 2019, Northwestern will join more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the state and the nation to declare a tobacco-free environment on campus. This means that smoking and tobacco use will be prohibited in all facilities and outdoor areas of campus, without exception. Applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the policy will apply to all students, faculty and staff, along with outside contractors, volunteers, visitors and members of the general public.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death” in the United States, with cigarette smoking causing more than 480,000 deaths annually. The CDC reports that smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and women, and a lifetime smoker is at high risk of developing a range of potentially lethal diseases.

Northwestern’s policy has been designed to help reduce health risks and related employee healthcare costs. It also will increase productivity, reduce campus litter and prepare our students for careers in increasingly tobacco-free work environments. The college will become one of several public institutions in the state to mandate a tobacco-free environment, and the introduction of the policy will correspond to similar initiatives across Connecticut’s Community Colleges and Universities.

For the purposes of Northwestern’s policy, “smoking” means inhaling, exhaling, burning, carrying or possessing any lighted tobacco product, including cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and other lit tobacco products. Along with cigarettes, the policy prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products on university property, including smokeless tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah and any other device using smoke or vapor.

It is understandable that adhering to this new policy may be challenging for some members of our community, and therefore a cessation program supporting individuals in their efforts to quit smoking will be available. Indeed, the next several months will focus on education and awareness, while we develop our enforcement protocol. Compliance with the policy – and encouraging others to do so – will be a shared responsibility of all our students, employees and visitors.

I thank the members of the Tobacco-Free Campus committee. As a result of their efforts, we have a policy that represents the best ideas from many in our community: a policy that will help to ensure that Northwestern’s campus is a healthy environment in which to live, work and learn for our students, faculty and staff.

Michael A. Rooke

Learn about cessation programs that can help you fight the urge to smoke.