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Tobacco Free UM

The University of Montana

Why UM is Tobacco Free

The University of Montana is committed to providing 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 are significant health hazards, UM is a tobacco-free environment.

Main Objectives

The three main objectives for passing the Tobacco Free policy are as follows:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

There is No Safe Level of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

In 2006, the Surgeon General released the most definitive study of secondhand smoke ever conducted. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General is a 600+ page report providing clear evidence of the dangers of second hand smoke. The report states:

  • There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.
  • Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 200 of which are poisons and 43 are carcinogens.
  • Those who have heart disease and/or asthma are particularly susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
At UM:
  • Campus is the number one location students are exposed to secondhand smoke - 79% of UM students and 73% of UM Employees report being exposed to secondhand smoke on campus. (UM Tobacco Free UM Policy Campus Assessment, Fall 2009 N=4409)
  • 12% of UM students report having asthma. (UM National College Health Assessment 2008 N=2,117)
  • Montana Law recognizes that the need to breathe smoke-free air has priority over the desire to smoke. (Montana Code Annotated, 2005; MCA 5-40-102) 

Meeting Campus Demands

The UM Tobacco Task Force and Curry Health Center have conducted numerous research projects collecting data on student health and opinions regarding campus tobacco policies. The results conclusively argue for improved tobacco policy.
  • Over 90% of UM students think it is important to address tobacco use on campus. (UM student opinion poll data N=248)
  • 70% of UM Employees and 53% of UM students support prohibiting tobacco use on campus (UM Tobacco Free UM Policy Campus Assessment, Fall 2009 N=4409)
  • ASUM supported three initiatives to improve the smoke-free environment on campus. (SB36-05/06, SB13-08/09 see Appendix D)
  • 94% of UM students do not smoke on a daily basis. (UM National College Health Assessment 2008 N=2,117)
  • 64% of UM student tobacco users want to quit. (Tobacco Use and Attitude Survey Spring 2009 N=1378)

Creating a Clean, Healthy, and Accessible Campus Environment

According to the 2006 Surgeon General’s report, people who have heart disease, asthma and/or allergies are particularly susceptible to the effects of second hand smoke and according to the same report, children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have lung problems, ear infections and severe asthma.
  • 12% of UM students report having asthma. (UM National College Health Assessment 2008 N=2,117)
  • ASUM Childcare, The School of Education’s LAB Preschool and Co-teach programs all house preschool aged or younger children throughout the year.

Save Money on facilities and maintenance and improving campus aesthetic

Smoking on campus consumes valuable staff time picking up cigarette butts, emptying ashtrays, putting out fires in smoking receptacles and handling complaints about second hand smoke. Unlike having designated smoking areas, going tobacco-free does not move the problem, but eliminates it. 

Reduce the risk of fires on campus

Cigarette butts can start fires in planting areas, trash receptacles and even cigarette receptacles. A smoke-free campus eliminates the risk and associated costs and may decrease fire and property insurance.

Increased work-place efficiency and decreased health care costs

Tobacco use in the workplace has been studied repeatedly and found to negatively affect productivity at work, increase amount of sick leave used, increase health care and life insurance costs.

Increased work-place efficiency

Tobacco use in the workplace leads increased use of sick leave and less productive time at work.
  • Employees who use tobacco use three times more sick leave (US Office of Technology and Assessment).
  • Tobacco use while at work results in an average of one month per year of unproductive time at work.
  • Over half of productivity costs are due to unproductive time at work (Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2006).

Decreased health care and life insurance costs

  • Health care costs for smokers are 40% higher than non-smokers (New England Journal of Medicine, 1998).
  • Life insurance costs for tobacco users are higher. 

Why UM chose a Tobacco-Free policy

The policy language includes the use of all commercial tobacco products including chew tobacco, dissolvable tobacco, hookah, snuff or snus. The following outlines the rationale for a Tobacco Free policy.
  • “Tobacco-free” campuses advocate for the health of all, including the user. “Smoke-free” is primarily focused on the health of others due to secondhand smoke exposure.
  • UM student use of smokeless tobacco products is nearly twice that of the national average (UM National College Health Assessment 2008 N=2,117) 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.
  • A smoking-only ban could inadvertently cause a rise in other tobacco usage. We do not want the message to become “Spit tobacco use is okay.” Spit tobacco users are exposed to similar levels of carcinogens and spit tobacco contains three to five times the amount of nicotine as cigarettes making it a harder addiction to break.
  • New dissolvable tobacco products designed by the tobacco companies encourage continuation of addiction rather than quitting. Some examples of new products are: orbs (breath mint size dissolvable tobacco), sticks (toothpick-like dissolvable tobacco), and strips (breath-strip like dissolvable tobacco). Dissolvable tobacco products are shown to have three times the amount of nicotine as is present in a cigarette. Use of these products could potentially lead to a stronger addiction to nicotine making quitting even more difficult. Tobacco products are not currently regulated by the FDA. These products are being test marketed in certain areas and are directly marketed to 18-24 year olds.