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Smoke-Free Policy: Frequently Asked Questions

We recognize you may have questions about the upcoming policy change. Please email smokefree@bentley.edu if your question or concern is not addressed below.

Q. Who was surveyed for their opinions on creating a smoke-free campus?
In November 2014 all Bentley University community members (undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff) were invited via email to participate in a qualtrics survey titled the “Tobacco Policy Opinion Survey.”  1,833 undergraduate and graduate students and 403 faculty and staff members participated in the survey.  The student survey yielded a 31% response rate and was very representative of campus demographics with 57% male, 42% female, 1% transgender, 16% international, 76% residential and 15% graduate students participating. The faculty and staff sample represented a 33% response rate and included 34% faculty and 2% union staff. 

Q. Who was on the Exploratory Task Force?

Individuals from the following departments or organizations contributed to the Task Force and provided input for the proposal:

Business Services, Center for Health and Wellness, Center for International Students and Scholars, Conference Center,
Colleges Against Cancer, Facilities Management, Graduate School, Graduate Student Association, Human Resources, International Student Association,
Marketing & Communications, Natural and Applied Sciences faculty, Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Office of Sustainability, Residential Life, Student Government Association,
Undergraduate Admissions, University Police

Q. Will a smoke-free policy negatively impact our enrollment?
There is no evidence that smoke-free policies contribute to decline in interest or enrollment. Surveys of institutions of higher education that have already adopted policies have shown no decline in enrollment (Sparks et al 2012).  In North Carolina, where tobacco-free policies exist on most campuses, studies concluded that there was no difference in enrollment when comparing private and state institution enrollment data pre- and post -policy adoption (Miller et al, 2015).

Q. What about international students – was there any attempt to get their opinions?
Yes. 16% (n=283) of our survey respondents were international students.  Additionally, student leaders from the International Student Association and staff from the Center for International Students and Scholars were invited to task force meetings.

We learned that 55% of our international students do not use tobacco and 78% of respondents don’t use tobacco on a daily basis.  64% do have concerns about exposure to second hand smoke and 75% feel Bentley should address second hand smoke on campus.

Q. Why include e-cigarettes?
There are many known carcinogens in the vapor produced by e-cigarettes and in some cases the concentration in the vapor is higher than traditional cigarettes.  These products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not considered safe nicotine delivery systems or smoking cessation strategies. There is limited research on these products and several public health agencies including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, World Health Organization, American College Health Association and the FDA discourage use of e-cigarettes.  

Q. Why can't I smoke in my car while parked on campus?

In the spirit of the policy, which is meant to benefit the health of our commuity members and visitors to our campus, smoking is not allowed in vehicles parked on the Bentley campus since it contributes to secondhand smoke.

Q. Why not implement a policy change right away?
Colleges and universities with successful implementation and compliance rates spent time educating their community, as well as providing support and resources for community members who choose to smoke by offering comprehensive cessation programs.  Allowing time for community members to make healthy behavior changes is key to a successful program.

Q. Why not designate smoking areas on campus?
Designated smoking areas undermine smoke-free policies and create specific environments with a greater concentration of secondhand smoke.  They do not support the public health framework of reducing risk and disease from exposure and repeated use.  

Q. Are smoke and tobacco-free policies really effective?
Yes.  According to the CDC, smoke-free policies lead to a reduction in the amount of daily smoking among students and employees, as well as increase the number of individuals who stop smoking. Data from campuses that have implemented tobacco- free or smoke-free policies support this.  A 2011 study compared undergraduates’ smoking behaviors and attitudes at two Big Ten campuses, Indiana University (campus with tobacco-free policy) and Purdue University (campus without tobacco-free policy).  Data from Indiana University showed a decrease in smoking prevalence while data from Purdue, the campus without a policy, showed an increase in smoking behaviors and an increase in tobacco consumption.  Additionally, support for smoke-free environments increased at Indiana (Dong-Chul Seo et al, 2011).  A second study at the University of Michigan showed that after implementing a smoke-free policy, faculty and staff smoking rates decreased.  Also 29% of student smokers reduced their consumption, and 16% of students and 13% of faculty and staff indicated the policy influenced them to quit.  A third study looked at prevalence and attitudes at a midwestern university over a 4 year period  and showed that the percentage of smoking among frequent and less frequent smokers decreased after the policy implementation (Lechner et al 2012).

Q. Have other colleges and Universities gone smoke free?
Yes, as of January 2016 there are 1,475 campuses with registered smoke-free or tobacco-free policies. 

 

References
Dong-Chul Seo et al., The Effect of a Smoke-free Campus Policy on College Students’ Smoking Behavior and Attitudes, Preventive Medicine 2011;53:347-352.

Lechner, W. Meier, E. Miller, MB. Wiener, J. Fills-Aime, Y.(2012), Changes in Smoking Prevalence, Attitudes, and Beliefs Over 4 Years Following a Campus-Wide Anti-tobacco Intervention, Journal of American College Health Vol 60, No 7 p505-511.

Miller KD, Yu D, Lee JG, Ranney LM, Simons DJ, Goldstein AO. Impact of the adoption of tobacco-free campus policies on student enrollment at colleges and universities, North Carolina, 2001-2010 Journal of American College Health. 2015;63(4):230-6. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2015.1015023.

Sparks, M. Bell, R. Sparks, A. Sutfin, E. (2012). Wake Forest School of Medicine Creating a Healthier College Campus: A Comprehensive Model for Implementing Tobacco Free Policies Retrieved from http://www.wakehealth.edu/uploadedFiles/User_Content/Research/Department...

University of Michigan, MHealthy, “Smoking Declines After U-M Campus Ban,” May 9, 2013.