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Tobacco Free UM

The University of Montana

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Tobacco Free UM policy?   

The University of Montana provides a safe and healthy environment for its employees, students, and visitors.  In light of the U.S. Surgeon General's findings that exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and use of tobacco causes significant health hazards, The University of Montana is a tobacco-free environment. For full policy language: Tobacco Free UM Policy #406.1.1

Why did UM decide to go Tobacco Free?

  • To create a healthier more accessible environment for employees, students, and visitors. According to the US Surgeon General, there is no safe level of second hand smoke.  Many students and employees suffer from breathing conditions that are aggravated by even a small amount of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • To support quitters. Most tobacco users want to quit.  The policy creates an environment that supports their efforts.  Increased cessation support for employees and students will give the tools and the policy will create the supportive environment.
  • To reduce the number of new smokers. College has become an environment that encourages smoking.  Students report smoking more or even starting smoking in college.  The policy will create an environment that inhibits tobacco use rather than promotes it.

Who is affected by the Tobacco Free UM policy? 

The Tobacco Free UM policy applies to all persons in or on property owned, leased, or used for specific events by the University or any of its components. 

Does the Tobacco Free UM policy extend to the Missoula College campus?

The policy applies to all UM property.  This includes UM mountain campus, College of Technology (west and east campus), UM south campus, Lewis and Clark villages, University Villages, rental properties on 5th and 6th streets, Lubrecht Experimental Forest, Flathead Lake Biological Station, and Montana Island Lodge.

What about Kim Williams Trail and Mount Sentinel?

Kim Williams Trail is not owned by UM.   UM owns land on Mount Sentinel including the “M” trail. 

Are there designated tobacco use areas on campus?

No.  However, the sidewalks around the perimeter of campus and the boulevard between the sidewalk and curb on Arthur and Beckwith avenues and 5th and 6th streets are city right of ways and are not covered by the policy.  These areas have been established as "Good Neighbor Zones".  

How is the policy enforced?

  • There is an emphasis on peer enforcement.  Everyone will have a hand in enforcement by reminding each other that we are a tobacco free campus.
  • UM Public Safety is charged with officially enforcing the policy and has drafted an enforcement plan that includes verbal reminders to those who are non-compliant as well as fielding written complaints regarding persistent violations.
  • As with any UM policy, violators are subject to student conduct code sanctions or employee progressive disciplinary actions.

What should I do if I see someone using tobacco products on campus?

The vast majority of campus supports a tobacco free environment.  The only way to ensure a tobacco free environment is for everyone to be actively involved with enforcement.  Sometimes it can be hard to approach someone but below is a non-confrontational way to enforce the policy. Use the SMOKE approach:

  • SMILE and introduce yourself
  • MAKE THE ASSUMPTION that they do not know about the policy and tell them about it
  • OFFER the person cessation help at Curry Health Center or Faculty-Staff Wellness
  • KINDLY remind them of the policy
  • ENFORCE the policy by asking them to dispose of their tobacco


If the person continues to smoke or becomes confrontational, walk away and report the violation.

How can I report a violation?

If you would like to alert the UM Tobacco Task Force regarding general policy violations, areas of high non-compliance or troubel spots on campus, please contact the UM Tobacco Task Force at TobaccoFreeUM@mso.umt.edu. The UM Tobacco Task Force will respond by forwarding the compaint to Public Safety if necessary, arrange for increased signage, peer-led patrols or clean up when appropriate. Thank you for your interest in keeping UM tobacco free.

I really want to help create a Tobacco Free environment at UM.  How can I help?

You can become part of the Tobacco Free UM compliance crew.  Thanks!

What about the neighboring home owners?  Won’t people just smoke on their property instead?

"Good Neighbor Zones" around the perimeter of campus are areas not covered by the policy and help deter tobacco users from going into the surrounding neighborhood.  Good Neighbor Zones include the sidewalks around the perimeter of campus and the boulevard between the sidewalk and curb on Arthur and Beckwith avenues and 5th and 6th streets.

What about tobacco users who don’t want to quit?  What are they supposed to do?

Tobacco is a nicotine delivery system.  There are many other forms of nicotine delivery systems available – gum, lozenges, patches etc.   These products can be used by students, employees and visitors to help them manage during extended periods of time on campus.

Students can design their schedules to allow for time away from campus if they need to use tobacco during the day.

Employees can taper their tobacco use enough to accommodate time on campus or use other nicotine delivery systems during the day.

They can use the "Good Neighbor Zones" established on the perimeter of campus.

Isn’t it my right to use tobacco?

Tobacco is a legal product for adults.  However, using tobacco products is a personal freedom not a legal right.  Personal freedoms are often limited to improve public access and health.  For example, alcohol is a legal product, but open container laws supersede personal freedom to improve public safety.  Additionally, Montana law “recognizes that the need to breathe smoke-free air has priority over the desire to smoke.” (Montana Code Annotated; MCA 5-40-102)

What about ceremonial tobacco use on campus?

Ceremonial use of tobacco in or on property owned, leased, or used for specific events by The University of Montana must be approved in advance by the Director of American Indian Student Services.  (See UM Policy 201.5 Smudging/Pipe Ceremonies).

What tobacco products in addition to cigarettes are included in the policy?

All tobacco products are covered by the Tobacco Free UM policy.  This includes cigars, pipes, bidis, clove cigarettes, smokeless or spit tobacco, dissolvable tobacco, hookah shisha, snuff or snus, kreteks, and cigarillos.

Why ban smokeless tobacco if it only harms the user?

UM student use of smokeless tobacco products is nearly twice that of the national average.  It would be irresponsible to write policy language that did not address this public health concern.  UM policy should not imply that smokeless or other tobacco products are a safe alternative to smoking.

Are there other tobacco free college campuses in Montana?

Yes.  Every Montana University System college is tobacco free.  Nationally, there are at least 466 smoke free campuses (as of January 2011).  The American Lung Association publishes a list of 100% Tobacco Free Universities.

What about athletic events or other events on campus?

All University events on or off campus, including home football games, will be tobacco free events.

What about electronic cigarettes?

Since electronic cigarettes are not a tobacco product, they do not fall within the parameters of the policy.  However, e-cigarettes are not regulated in any way and come with many safety concerns.  Additionally, because e-cigarettes look and feel like a tobacco-based product, they are not an effective way to quit tobacco and users may be approached by someone trying to enforce the policy.

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