Why did UTC decide to go smoke-free?

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing over 400,000 deaths per year while secondhand smoke causes over 40,000 deaths per year in nonsmokers. For these reasons, implementing a smoke-free campus policy supports the health and well-being of all UTC campus community members.

UTC’s goal is to help our students be successful once they leave the University. Many worksites have moved toward smoke-free or tobacco-free policies. Encouraging and supporting campus members to take this step fits the overall goal of preparing students for their future careers while also improving health of students and employees.

When does the policy go into effect?

UTC will be smoke-free as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Why does the policy not go into effect sooner?

A conscious decision was made to allow a full year to implement this policy. This is to provide ample time to spread the word around campus and the wider Chattanooga community about this policy change. It also allows advanced access to cessation and nicotine-replacement support for members of the UTC community that may be interested in these resources before the policy goes into effect.

Do other schools have similar policies?

More than 2,100 colleges and universities across the U.S. have adopted smoke-free policies, including Chattanooga State Community College, which went smoke free on July 1, 2016, and UT-Knoxville, which will be smoke free effective Aug. 1, 2018.

What is included in the policy?

The smoke-free policy includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes and vaping devices.

Why did UTC choose to go smoke-free instead of tobacco-free?

State law does not allow for designation of a tobacco-free campus; that is, banning smokeless tobacco use as well as smoking. In addition, smoking is the only form of tobacco use with the potential to harm others through secondhand exposure, making it a logical focus from a public health perspective.

Isn’t it my right to smoke if I want to?

Tobacco is a legal product for adults and UTC is not requiring anyone to quit smoking. However, the University oversees all campus property and can establish policies that protect the health and safety of all campus community members. 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. Prohibiting smoking on campus provides access to clean, smoke-free air while allowing adults who smoke to continue to do so off-campus. This decision supports the rights and privileges of both smokers and non-smokers.

Why are e-cigarettes included?

E-cigarettes are a relatively new product with increasing popularity. However, the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes is not harmless and that e-cigarettes expose others to secondhand emissions. Some people believe that e-cigarettes can be used to help quit smoking. However, the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has not approved any e-cigarette as a safe or effective method for quitting. Additionally, allowing the continued use of e-cigarettes could lead to dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes by campus community members, rather than encouraging members to take advantage of resources available to help them quit smoking.

Do these policies really make a difference?

Many large surveys across the country have shown strong support for smoke-free policies that include outdoor spaces. A recent study on colleges found that exposure to secondhand smoke on campus was significantly lower when a smoke-free policy was in place compared to campuses with no outdoor policy or with designated outdoor smoking areas (Fallin, Roditis and Glantz, 2015).

Implementing a smoke-free policy at UTC also will increase education and awareness of the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke while improving the campus environment.

How is the policy enforced?

Enforcement of the policy will be led by a number of campus entities, including the Dean of Students Office, the Office of Human Resources and UTC police.

What is my responsibility as a campus community member in regards to the smoke-free policy?

As a member of the UTC community, we want you to feel comfortable approaching and addressing anyone who might not be in compliance with this policy, but you are not expected to police campus. We encourage you to report to the appropriate individual if you observe someone breaking this campus policy. This might include your residence hall director, supervisor or UTC police. You can also complete an incident report form.

Is the university requiring that people quit smoking?

No, UTC is not demanding that anyone quit smoking, only requiring that you refrain from using the products covered by the policy while on the UTC campus.

What areas of campus will the smoke-free campus policy cover?

The policy requires that you refrain from smoking on any part of the UTC campus, including outdoor sporting areas and parking lots.

Can I smoke in my vehicle?

No, smoking will not be allowed in vehicles while that vehicle is on campus.

Why are there no designated smoking areas?

The goal of this policy is to help people quit smoking and provide a healthy, supportive environment. Designated areas for smoking continue to expose campus community members to secondhand smoke. Such areas also can be large sources of litter.

What about athletic and cultural events held on campus? Does this policy apply to visitors to campus?

This policy must be followed by all visitors to campus, regardless of the reason for the visit. UTC is invested not only in the health of our employees and students but in the health of all visitors to our campus. Individuals attending athletic and cultural events, including commencement ceremonies, as well as vendors working on campus must adhere to the policy.

How will UTC inform visitors of the smoke-free campus policy?

Signs and flags will be posted throughout campus and especially at entrances to campus, informing visitors of this policy.

Is marijuana included in the smoke-free policy?

It is illegal to use marijuana anywhere in the state of Tennessee, and that includes the UTC campus.

I’d like to quit smoking. What resources are available to me?

UTC Student Health Services will support any student, faculty or staff member who needs assistance to quit smoking. Students, as well as faculty and staff, can visit Student Health Services for a no-cost assessment of current use, presentation and discussion of options, and prescription of cessation approaches if desired/necessary. Working through a collaboration between the healthcare provider and patient, we are excited to help those who choose to work towards smoking cessation. For more information, contact UTC Student Health Services at (423) 425-2266.

What questions should I ask my insurance company to find out whether nicotine replacement therapies or cessation support is covered under my plan?

Here are a few questions you may want to ask your insurance company to better understand your coverage as it relates to nicotine-replacement or smoking-cessation support:

  • Does my insurance plan cover the cost of any prescription nicotine-replacement therapies or tobacco-cessation products? Which ones? How much of the cost will be covered?
  • Does my insurance plan cover the cost of any over-the-counter nicotine-replacement therapies or tobacco-cessation products? Which ones? How much of the cost will be covered?
  • Do I need a prescription for over-the-counter options to ensure the insurance plan will cover the cost?

What am I supposed to do if I do not want to quit smoking but do not have enough time to leave campus? Are other resources available?

Nicotine-replacement therapies and counseling on these approaches are available at UTC Student Health Services.

How will this policy affect University neighbors?

UTC encourages communication from university neighbors regarding any issues with smoking/litter at the edges of campus.

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns about this policy?

Students should contact the Dean of Students Office; employees should contact UTC Human Resources. Inquires also can be directed to smokefree@utc.edu.

Smoke Free FAQ PDF

Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call (423) 425-4363.
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1 Comment » for FAQs for the new SmokeFree UTC policy
  1. James Sharp says:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    The State of Tennessee considers a legally owned personal vehicle to be an extension of one’s home under the Castle Doctrine. This doctrine primarily applies to firearms, however it outlines that a vehicle is an extension of the home. If I would like to use my vapor device inside my home or vehicle, no matter the location, it is my right. I plan to seek legal counsel on this matter in order to further cement this stance. It is my desire that the smoke-free initiative be revised regarding privately owned vehicles.