Smoke-Free Campus

University of Illinois

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How has the campus’ smoke-free policy changed recently?

The Urbana campus voluntarily adopted the Smoke-Free Campus Policy in January of 2014. The policy prohibited smoking on all indoor and outdoor property. Effective July 1, 2015, the State of Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act required certain changes to our policy including:

  • New areas outside the main campus, such as Willard Airport and the Research Park, are now smoke-free. Please consult the Smoke-Free Campus map to view the authoritative boundaries of the policy.
  • The policy contains a progressive system of citations, educational programming and fines. Our goal remains to achieve voluntary compliance by educating our campus community about het dangers of secondhand smoke, and we have designed our system of citations and fines to be consistent with this goal.

Question: Is it true that the campus is now fining people for smoking on campus property?

In compliance with the State of Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act, the Urbana campus has instituted a system of citations and fines. University of Illinois police officers and security guards from the Division of Public Safety will now issue citations for violations of the Smoke-Free Campus Policy. Fines are issued according to the following schedule:

First violation: Written warning

  • Second violation: $25 fine. This fine may be waived by completing a video educational program within 72 hours.
  • Third violation: $50 fine
  • Fourth and subsequent violations: $100 fine per occurrence

The campus has instituted a robust communication campaign over the past year and a half, informing campus community members of the policy, the reasons for the policy and how to get help complying or cessation if needed. We will continue these communication efforts and emphasize this change. 

Question: How can I report someone smoking on campus?

If you observe someone smoking in a location prohibited by our policy, please contact the University of Illinois Police at the non-emergency number, 217-333-8911.  The dispatcher will ask for some basic information about the location of the incident and a description of the person violating the policy. 

You may also notify a University of Illinois Police Officer who is in the area where you observe the violation.

Please remember that our system of citations includes warning and education to help us in educating the community about our Smoke-Free Campus Policy.

Question: Does our Smoke-Free Campus Policy extend to other campus-owned property outside of the main campus?

The policy includes all campus-owned property. The Smoke-Free Campus map is the authoritative source for the boundaries of campus property. property.

Question: Can people smoke in their own vehicles within the Smoke-Free Campus? What about in university vehicles?

Smoking in private vehicles parked on campus property is banned under the policy. People cannot smoke in their cars while parked on campus owned streets or in campus parking lots or garages.

Smoking in university vehicles has been prohibited for several years, and remains so under the current policy.

Question: The State of Illinois Smoke-Free Act does not restrict smoking in personal vehicles. Will our campus now allow smoking in vehicles?

No. The State of Illinois Smoke-Free Act sets a minimum standard. Our campus has chosen to continue to prohibit smoking in personal vehicles parked on campus property.

Question: How will people know where they can and cannot smoke?

All campus-owned property is smoke-free. Signs are posted on campus. Our Smoke-Free Campus map identifies the boundaries of the campus.

Question: Are there designated smoking areas on campus?

No. Smoking is prohibited on all campus property. Establishing designated smoking areas undermines the policy. The purpose of the policy is to create a health-supporting community. Smoking zones and perimeter policies have not been found to be effective or enforceable. Smoking shelters are expensive to construct and maintain. Campuses with full smoke-free policies have reported fewer problems with compliance than policies that include smoking areas.

Question: What about football games, concerts or other public events?

All events occurring on campus-owned property are covered by the smoke-free policy. This includes but is not limited to athletic events, concerts, theatre, exhibitions, meetings, conferences, weddings, etc. The policy applies to faculty, staff students and visitors. To help people be more comfortable while attending events on campus, nicotine replacement therapy is available for sale at locations found on the Smoke-Free Campus map.

Question: Can I use e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes may not be used on campus property. 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 our policy may lead many smokers to turn to e-cigarettes as a cessation device, possibly unknowingly harming their health.  The Smoke-Free Campus subcommittees explored this extensively. They decided to prohibit them for the following reasons:

  • E-cigarettes emit a vapor that contains tobacco byproducts. It is widely believed that this vapor is dangerous; the extent of the risk is unknown at this time. Preliminary analyses on e-cigarettes have found that the cartridges contain diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze that is toxic to humans, and carcinogens, including nitrosamines.
  • E-cigarettes are a relatively new, and extremely unregulated technology. They are not approved by the FDA as a cessation device – although the e-cigarette industry heavily markets them as such. There is little scientific research on them; therefore, the risks of usage are unknown at this point.  Several severe accidents regarding use of e-cigarettes have been reported (e.g. poisoning of young children, exploding cartridges). Consumers have no way of knowing:
      • whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use;
      • how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are inhaled during use;
      • whether they are effective as quit-smoking aids;
      • whether they can deliver enough nicotine to satisfy withdrawal effects;
      • what the effect of secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes is;
      • whether the use of e-cigarettes encourages smokers who might have otherwise quit to continue smoking and only use e-cigarettes when they are in no-smoking environments; and
      • whether youth may use e-cigarettes as an introduction to smoking regular cigarettes.
  • Most public health agencies discourage the use of e-cigarettes including:
      • American Heart Association
      • American Lung Association
      • US Food and Drug Administration
      • World Health Association
      • American College Health Association
      • Cancer Action Network
      • Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

These agencies advise smokers who wish to quit or reduce tobacco use to employ FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies or medications, in conjunction with behaviorally-based cessation techniques.


Question: What about marijuana smoking?

The smoke-free policy prohibits smoking marijuana on campus property.

Question: Why did our campus go smoke-free?

By eliminating second-hand smoke, the Urbana campus underscores its commitment to providing a healthy learning environment for students and a healthy work environment for faculty and staff.

Establishing a Smoke-Free Campus Policy:

  • Protects people from unwanted and involuntary exposure to tobacco and passive smoke. Multiple studies affirm that there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, including outdoor smoke.
  • Creates a supportive environment for those who are trying to reduce or quit tobacco use.
  • Creates a cleaner living, learning, and working environment. Cigarette butts are the most common type of litter. Reducing cigarette butt litter will beautify our campus and lower clean-up costs.
  • Protects the environment from tobacco–related litter. Discarded cigarette butts contain all the carcinogens and nicotine that make tobacco use the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, yet trillions of butts are littered into the environment annually. Cigarette butts take years to decompose, increasing the toxicity of aquatic ecosystems, and potentially leaching into soil and the water supply. Cigarette butts are also dangerous when consumed by wildlife, pets, or young children.

The campus ‘policy supports and builds upon the state’s Smoke Free Illinois Act (410 ILCS 82/), which is already in effect throughout the Champaign-Urbana area, including campus. Our policy also complies with the State of Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act. The American College Health Association has also advocated that all colleges and universities attain a 100 percent tobacco-free environment. As of July 2015, 1577 college campuses across the country have enacted 100 percent smoke-free or tobacco-free policies. This number has steadily increased for the past few years.

Question: Is secondhand smoke really that much of a problem?

Secondhand smoke, also called involuntary smoking or passive smoking, is a mixture of gases and fine particles that includes:

  • Smoke from burning tobacco
  • Smoke that has been exhaled by people smoking
  • More than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic, and about 70 that can cause cancer.

Secondhand tobacco smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Closer to home, an estimated 2,900 Illinois citizens die each year from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of heart disease and/or lung cancer 20 – 30 percent.
  • There is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful to health.

The 2006 Surgeon General's report found that even brief exposures to secondhand smoke may have adverse effects on the heart and respiratory systems and increase the severity of asthma attacks, especially in children.

Recent research indicates that people inhaling smoke at an outdoor café or other outside venue can breathe in wisps of smoke that are many times more concentrated than normal background air pollution levels.

Aside from the risk to the general campus community, secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous for people with cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and certain allergies, older adults, pregnant women, and children. The campus houses several laboratory daycares and schools, as well as hosting a myriad of summer camps.

Our campus community believes that secondhand smoke is a problem on campus. The following are results from the April 2012 survey:

  • 86 percent of students and employees said they believe secondhand smoke is a health hazard.
  • 71 percent of students and 49 percent of employees said they were exposed to secondhand smoke on the campus.
  • 66 percent of students and 69 percent of employees said littering of tobacco materials (e.g. cigarette butts) was a problem on the campus.

Question: Isn't tobacco-use a personal right?

Tobacco use is a legal product for adults. However, the university owns campus property, and can establish policies that protect the health of all campus members. A smoke-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely establishes where use can occur.

The new policy supports the right of all people on the campus to breathe smoke-free air. The simple reason for our policy is respect for each other and the environment. Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. There is no safe exposure level to secondhand smoke – even outside. We hope that smokers who choose to continue smoking will respect our smoke-free environment out of concern for their fellow campus community members.

Question: Will I be fired if I don’t quit smoking?

You will not be fired for being a smoker. All employees, students and visitors are expected to comply with the policy by not smoking on campus property.

Question: What is the campus doing for students and employees who want to quit using tobacco products?

The campus has a wide array of smoking/tobacco cessation options for students and employees. Students can contact Mckinley Health Center for details on cessation options. The UI Wellness Center coordinates cessation resources for employees. For a detailed list of cessation resources go to the tobacco-free toolkit. The toolkit also lists many cessation resources for community members.

Question: Some people aren’t ready to quit, but may have a hard time getting through the day without smoking. What is the campus doing to help them?

The campus has set up locations where people can purchase Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as nicotine gum or lozenges. These locations include Illini Union, Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), Campus Recreation Center East (CRCE), the Ice Arena, State Farm Center, and some residence halls. The locations are shown on the Smoke-Free Campus map. For additional help contact the UI Wellness Center.

Question: When did the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign become smoke-free?

The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign voluntarily became smoke-free January 1, 2014. Modifications were made in 2015 to comply with the State of Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act.

Question: What process was involved in making the original decision to go smoke-free?

  • In November 2011, a question about becoming a Smoke-Free Campus was included in the annual student referendum: approximately 70 percent of students who voted urged the campus to explore the possibility of becoming smoke-free environment.
  • This result led to further discussions about next steps between students and representatives from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students Affairs. After several meetings, the Smoke-Free Ad Hoc Committee was formed by Chancellor Wise in January, 2012. This campus-wide committee intentionally included representation from campus administration, faculty, academic professionals and civil service staff, as well as graduate and undergraduate students.
  • A random stratified survey of ten percent of students, faculty and staff was conducted in April, 2012. The purpose of the survey was to gather information and examine attitudes about tobacco use on campus to help the Task Force with its work.
  • In the summer of 2012, after detailed review of the current campus policy, best practices of other comparable campuses, the survey results, data from relevant health agencies, and other related information, the committee wrote and submitted a report to Chancellor Wise. The report outlined three options: 1) establish a tobacco-free campus policy; 2) establish a Smoke-Free Campus Policy; 3) retain the current smoking policy. The committee recommended the campus adopt option two – establish a Smoke-Free Campus Policy.
  • The Chancellor reviewed the report and selected option two – adopting a Smoke-Free Campus Policy.

Question: Did you consider the needs and perspectives of all different groups on campus?

The campus was very interested in having all groups represented in the implementation process, and in providing mechanisms for people to voice their ideas and concerns. The original Smoke-Free Ad Hoc Committee who wrote the recommendation to the chancellor was composed of a diverse group of people representing many campus constituencies.

During the Fall of 2012 and the Spring of 2013, meetings were held with many campus organizations; including different official university committees and groups, organizations involving various colleges, and registered student organizations. These meetings 1) informed members of the campus community about how the decision to become smoke-free occurred, 2) provided information about the implementation process; and 3) elicited input to help make the process as gentle as possible.

Four working subcommittees planned the implementation of the policy. Each of these subcommittees has a faculty-staff and a student co-chair. Each subcommittee has about 15 members, representing faculty staff, students and community organizations.

In the fall of 2013, a focus group with smokers guided us in how to help smokers through the transition.

Question: I have ideas, questions or concerns. Who should I contact? 

To contact us:

  1. Submit your thoughts via the feedback section of the Smoke-Free Campus website. If you would like an answer, please provide your name and email address. If you prefer to keep your communication anonymous, simply send your comment without identifying yourself.
  2. Submit ideas or express concerns to Michele Guerra, Director of the UI Wellness Center at

Question: I am interested in helping with smoke-free efforts on campus. Who should I contact?

Contact Michele Guerra, Director of the UI Wellness Center at