A tobacco-free campus policy goes above and beyond the Smokefree Illinois Act’s required minimums. Absolutely no tobacco-use is permitted on campus, even when walking in between buildings or in open spaces on campus grounds. Comprehensive policies include language on the sale of tobacco products on campus, prohibition of tobacco-company advertising and sponsorship, and refusal to accept research funding from tobacco-companies through grants and contracts.
Tobacco-free campuses are the future of public health and, as places of learning, post-secondary institutions can better prepare students for tobacco-free workplaces, reduce present and future health care costs, encourage overall well-being of their student body and staff and help those using tobacco to quit for good.
A recent report from the Surgeon General found that almost no one starts smoking after the age of 25. A tobacco-free campus encourages healthy decision-making during a time when young people are easily influenced by their peers and are more likely to develop a nicotine addiction. Tobacco-free spaces are proven ways to reduce the number of current smokers and encourage our youth never to start.
Currently, there are 11 post-secondary institutions in Illinois with tobacco-free campus policies. With over 150 campuses in Illinois, there is great potential, and an increasing interest, to develop policy and to do so quickly.
Tobacco-related diseases are the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing over 443,000 Americans each year. Smoking alone costs the U.S. economy $193 billion dollars every year. In Illinois, smoking killed more than 16,000 people last year and cost our state economy $8 billion.
Recently, the American Lung Association in Illinois hosted a Tobacco-Free Campus Workshop to help post-secondary institutions understand the benefits of being tobacco-free and to discuss how to implement at their schools. The American Lung Association is ready to assist any institution or student group seeking more information on how to make their campus tobacco-free.