UWF Tobacco-Free Campus
In an effort to protect the health of the University of West Florida community, UWF became tobacco free on August 1, 2016. The Tobacco-Free Campus Policy applies to all employees, students and visitors and prohibits the use of all tobacco products on all university-owned properties, including but not limited to, all recreational facilities, residential facilities and parking lots. All events occurring on campus or on campus property are subject to the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy.
UWF joins more than 20 other Florida campuses that are tobacco-free or smoke-free and continues to make significant strides toward creating a safe, clean and healthy learning and working environment.
A Tobacco-free Environment Provides the Following Benefits to the UWF Community:
- Supports the State of Florida's efforts to eliminate tobacco use in public settings.
- Supports healthy lifestyle choices.
- Eliminates second-hand smoke from around building entrances and air intake units.
- Eliminates litter and reduces the risk of fire caused by smoking.
- Prepares UWF students to cope with future employment in tobacco-free environments.
- Sets a positive example for high school students and young children who visit our campus
About the Policy
When did the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy go into effect and who is affected?
The Tobacco-Free Campus Policy went into effect on August 1, 2016, and applies to employees, students, and visitors on University of West Florida (UWF) property. This Tobacco-Free Campus Policy does not require individuals to quit smoking or using tobacco products; it only requires that this behavior does not occur on UWF property.
What is considered a tobacco product?
For the purpose of the policy "tobacco" is defined to include any tobacco product or derivative, including but not limited to any lighted or unlighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, hookah, and other non-combustible tobacco-free products such as e-cigarettes. The policy would also include forms of smokeless tobacco and any nicotine delivery device that has not been approved by the FDA for cessation.
The Tobacco-Free Campus Policy prohibits use of smoking as well as the use of an electronic cigarette or any other device intended to simulate smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco, including snuff; chewing tobacco; smokeless pouches; any other form of loose-leaf, smokeless tobacco; and the use of unlit cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco on UWF property.
Exclusions include any product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco cessation product, as a tobacco dependence product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for such an approved purpose.
What areas of campus does the tobacco-free policy cover?
Smoking and the use of all tobacco products is prohibited on all university-owned properties, including but not limited to, all recreational facilities, residential facilities, and parking lots.
All events occurring on campus or on campus-property are covered by the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. Events held on non-university property are governed by the policies of the partner. Football games at the Maritime Park are not impacted by this policy.
Exceptions may be permitted for controlled research, educational, clinical, or religious ceremonial purposes. Any exceptions to the policy must be approved by the provost and executive vice president or designee. UWF Emerald Coast is also an exception as the facility is owned by Northwest Florida State College. The policy does not apply to the Crestview campus as well.
Are there any areas on campus where tobacco use is allowed?
All university campuses are completely smoke and tobacco-free zones and, therefore, there are no areas in which tobacco use is allowed for employees/students/vendors/visitors.
Are staff, faculty, and students required to quit smoking?
No. The university cannot compel individuals to quit using tobacco. UWF is only asking individuals to refrain from using tobacco products during their time on campus. In addition, the University encourages everyone to use the resources found on our UWF Tobacco Free webpage to learn more about smoking cessation resources.
About Being a Tobacco-Free Campus
Why did UWF become tobacco-free?
The health and welfare of all members of the University of West Florida community, including faculty, students, staff, and visitors, are of paramount importance. The University is committed to providing its employees, students, and guests with a safe and healthy working and learning environment.
Do I have legal rights to smoke as an adult that will overrule the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy?
Tobacco use is a legal product for adults. However, court rulings maintain that tobacco users do not have the legal right to expose others to secondhand smoke, which is considered a Class A carcinogen. Additionally, people who smoke are not entitled to protection against discrimination as "addicts" or as "disabled persons."
There is no "right to smoke" under any federal, state or local law.
The university owns the campus property and has the authority to establish policies that protect the health of all campus members. Furthermore, according to the Public Health Institute, smoking has never been recognized by any court as a protected fundamental right and no court has found smokers to be a protected class. As long as tobacco regulation is created on the basis of a legitimate government objective, like public health or the environment, it will always be upheld as constitutional. The university owns its buildings and grounds and has the right and responsibility to enact policies to reduce injury and illness by eliminating hazards and unsafe acts and conditions from its premises. Tobacco-free environments are not about forcing individuals to change their lifestyle or behavior. Rather, the intention to protect the greater campus community and college interests.
Why not ban other unhealthy substances like high-fat foods?
In accordance with its mission as an institution of higher education, UWF is continually seeking ways to create a healthier environment. In recent years, for example, the University has added healthier food choices in the cafeterias and sought to create a more sustainable environment through recycling efforts. However, the health risks and damaging effects of tobacco use – including the harm to others from second-hand smoke – far surpass those of other unhealthy substances. We realize that this policy may be taxing for tobacco users, but we hope that smokers will respect the right of their fellow members of the university community to breathe smoke-free air.
Isn’t tobacco use a personal decision?
Just as college students can make their own decisions about tobacco use, UWF has a right to make decisions about tobacco use on campus and has an obligation to provide a safe environment for students, staff, faculty, and visitors. This includes curtailing the use of known carcinogens such as secondhand smoke.
Are other colleges and universities going tobacco-free and smoke-free?
As of July 1, 2015, There are more than 1,500 100% smokefree campuses. Of these, 1,079 are 100% tobacco-free, and 710 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes anywhere on campus.
In Florida, 26 campuses are tobacco-free or smoke-free (19 tobacco-free and 7 smoke-free).
Why does the policy include smokeless tobacco?
A tobacco-free policy sends a consistent health message by not implying that smokeless forms of tobacco are safe. There are no safe forms or levels of tobacco use. The policy promotes and protects the health of all campus members, users and non-users alike.
Why are e-cigarette type products included?
E-cigarette products are prohibited by UWF's tobacco-free policy. After extensive research, it was decided to ban these devices for the following reasons:
- E-cigarettes may emit nicotine or vapors containing detectable carcinogens and toxic chemicals.
- Some of the known vapors in e-cigarettes are considered to pose health risks; the extent of the risk is unknown at this time.
- The American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association all recommend that smoke free laws and policies prohibit the use of e-cigarettes.
- The tobacco industry heavily markets e-cigarettes as a cessation device, although they have not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. Allowing them in the policy may lead smokers to turn to e-cigarettes as a cessation device posing potential health risks.
Please see this article concerning e-cigarettes for more information.
Why doesn't UWF provide designated smoking areas on campus?
Providing a place to smoke does not support the university's goal of creating a healthier environment.
How was this policy communicated to students, staff and visitors during transition time and thereafter?
- Education regarding UWF Tobacco-Free Campus Policy was included in formal orientation for all incoming students. The official student and employee handbooks were updated to inform current and future students, staff, and faculty about the policy.
- Signage has been and continues to be posted to inform members of the campus community and its visitors, including contractors and vendors, of the policy.
- All administrators, deans, directors, department chairs, and supervisors communicated the policy to all faculty and staff within their areas of responsibility.
- Tobacco waste management products, such as ashtrays, were all removed prior to August 1, 2016.
What should I do if I see Employees/Students/Vendors/Visitors smoking and/or using tobacco products?
Community-based enforcement of this policy is also approved and encouraged. During the fall 2016 semester as the policy is being put into practice, we need to regularly remind all staff of the university about the policy and to provide information on how smokers can get the help they need to change their behavior.
Tobacco users are expected to act responsibly by complying with this policy upon given information on the policy. As you approach the user, you can inform them that UWF is proud to be a Tobacco-Free Campus and ask them to please put out the tobacco product. If he/she refuses to cease smoking and/or the tobacco use, walk away. Do not get into a confrontational situation.
How will UWF address compliance of this policy?
- Each Dean/Department Chair/Director is responsible for ensuring policy compliance within areas under his/her jurisdiction.
- Faculty, staff, and students violating this or any University policy may be subject to disciplinary action as appropriate (employment policies, student code of conduct, housing community standards).
- Visitors, guests, and contractors may be subject to University Regulation 5.020-Trespass and Access to University Property.
How can I ask questions or address concerns that I have about the tobacco-free campus policy?
Please submit your questions by using Feedback button located on the right side of this page.
Tobacco Cessation Resources
What is UWF doing to help employees and students who want to quit using tobacco?
UWF is committed to helping students, faculty, and staff manage or overcome their tobacco use. The following resources are available to UWF students, faculty, and staff:
FREE UWF Services
- FREE 2-hour tobacco cessation classes are offered on campus once a month by West Florida Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Call 850-398-6965 or 877-678-6766 for more information.
- FREE nicotine replacement medication available with the tobacco cessation class.
- FREE Therapy Services at Counseling & Psychological Services (students only).
- The Florida Department of Health 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669),
- The American Cancer Society offers a toll-free phone line, 1-800-227-2345.
Other helpful resources
- Visit Smokefree.gov for SmokefreeTXT mobile service designed for young adults across the United States. SmokefreeTXT was created to provide 24/7 for encouragement, advice, and help that best fits your needs. You can get immediate assistance in the form of:
- A step-by-step quit smoking guide
- Information about a wide range of topics related to smoking and quitting
- An interactive U.S. map highlighting smoking information in your state
- LiveHelp, National Cancer Institute’s instant messaging service
- National Cancer Institute’s telephone quitline, 1-877-44U-QUIT
- Local and state telephone quitlines, 1-800-QUIT-NOW
- Publications to download, print, or order
- The Florida Department of Health at https://www.quitnow.net/florida
- For individuals who want to quit "cold turkey" without medical treatment of their nicotine addiction, find helpful resources at www.whyquit.com.