We know you may have questions about GSU's Smoke Free and Tobacco Free Policy. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that may help answer some of your questions.

  • What is the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Policy at GSU?


    The GSU Smoke Free/Tobacco Free policy states that:

    • Tobacco use or sale, including, but not limited to smoking, is prohibited on university-owned, -leased, or –operated property.
    • Tobacco use, including, but not limited to smoking, is not permitted in university-owned, -leased, or –operated vehicles.

  • When will Governors State University become Smoke Free?


    The Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Campus policy will go into effect July 1, 2015.

  • Why did our campus go Smoke Free?


    By eliminating second-hand smoke, Governors State University 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.
    • Promotes cessation and 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’ new policy supports and builds upon the state’s Smoke Free Illinois Act (410 ILCS 82/), which is already in effect throughout the Chicagoland area, including campus. The American College Health Association has also advocated that all colleges and universities attain a 100 percent Tobacco Free environment. As of April 2013, more than 1100 college campuses across the country have enacted 100 percent Smoke Free or Tobacco Free policies, with the trend steadily increasing for the past few years.

    Smoke Free Campus Act

    Smoke Free Illinois Act

  • What process was involved in making this decision and what steps were taken in order to implement this decision?


    • In 2014, The Smoke Free Campus Act was passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn.
    • Governors State University established a Smoke Free Campus task force on October 15, 2014 to coordinate with community and campus leaders for the implementation of this Act.
    • Governors State University’s Board of Trustees shall implement the Act and promulgate all policies and regulations necessary including, but not limited to, disciplinary action, fines, and appeals process.
    • The prohibitions on smoking in the Act must be communicated to all students and employees on or before May 1, 2015.
    • Governors State University shall create and post on its website a Smoke Free campus map indicating the locations where smoking is prohibited by this Act.
    • In addition to being a Smoke Free campus, Governors State University will also transition into being a Tobacco Free campus.  Tobacco use of any kind will be prohibited on campus.  Please refer to the Smoke Free Campus Act on the link referenced above regarding what is considered tobacco products.
    • Governors State University will enforce the Smoke Free Campus Act on July 1, 2015.

  • Doesn’t GSU already have a Smoke Free policy? How is this different from our current policy?


    Yes, smoking in buildings and on the GSU campus within 15 feet of entryways is prohibited.  Violations of this policy will be referred to the appropriate administrative office for review and appropriate action.

  • Whom does this policy affect?


    This policy affects visitors, faculty, staff, volunteers, students, contract/other employees, vendors and service representatives.  It applies to anyone who comes to the GSU campus.

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


    The campus is interested in having all groups represented in the implementation process and is providing mechanisms for people to voice their ideas and concerns.

  • Isn't tobacco-use a personal right?


    Tobacco use is a legal product for adults. The campus is not asking anyone to quit. However, the university owns campus property, and can establish policies that protect the health of all campus members.

    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. We request that smokers and tobacco users who choose to continue smoking or use tobacco to respect our Smoke Free and Tobacco Free environment out of concern for their fellow campus community members.

  • Isn’t the GSU Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Policy a violation of my civil rights?


    No. Governors State University’s Board of Trustees has the authority to govern the use of university property and regulate its use.

  • 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:

    • In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer (exposure increases risk from 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 believe secondhand smoke is a health hazard.
    • 71 percent of students and 49 percent of employees say they are exposed to secondhand smoke on the campus.
    • 66 percent of students and 69 percent of employees say littering of tobacco materials (e.g. cigarette butts) is a problem on the campus.

  • Does Illinois’ Smoke Free campus policy extend to other campus-owned property outside of the main campus?


    The policy includes all campus-owned property.  The campus map shows the boundaries of campus property.

  • 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 new policy. This means 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 new policy.

  • How will people know where they can and cannot smoke?


    All campus-owned property is Smoke Free. Signs are posted on campus. An online campus map identifies the boundaries of the campus.

  • Will there be designated smoking areas on campus?


    No.  Smoking is prohibited on all campus grounds.

  • What about sports events or other public events?


    All events occurring on campus-owned property are covered by the Smoke Free policy.

  • What happens if someone on campus violates the Smoke Free/Tobacco Free policy?


    • Students will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students.
    • Employees will be referred to their supervisor or the Department of Human Resources.
    • Vendors/guests are expected to adhere to the Illinois State Law and to comply with GSU campus policy.  You may inform a vendor/guest of the state law and the GSU policy and its importance to the campus.

  • Will the campus police be responsible for enforcing the state law and/or GSU Smoke Free/Tobacco Free Policy?


    Yes, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will support efforts by GSU campuses to comply with the state law and to maintain a Smoke Free/Tobacco Free campus.  Violations will be referred by DPS to the appropriate department.

  • How is the policy enforced?


    The policy is being enforced through education and existing disciplinary procedures:


    • A smoke free campus map is posted on the Smoke Free campus website. This map helps people know how to leave campus if they wish to smoke. It also helps building managers, supervisors, resident directors and others help people comply with the policy.

    Existing disciplinary measures: In cases of repeated and purposeful noncompliance, the existing disciplinary measures will be followed:

    • Students will be referred to the Office of the Dean of Students.
    • Employees will be referred to their supervisor or the Department of Human Resources.

    Reporting mechanism: People can report noncompliance using the report forms on the smoke free campus map can be reported in two ways:

    • By location.  You can report that smoking is occurring at a specific location anonymously;
    • By individual.  You may report a specific individual who is smoking. To do so, you must identify yourself.

  • As an employee, will I be fired if I don’t quit smoking?


    You will not be fired for being a smoker, but all employees, students and visitors are expected to comply with the policy by not smoking on campus property. Repeated policy violations of any kind, could result in termination.

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


    The campus is researching tobacco cessation options for students and employees.  For more information, students can contact the Office of the Dean of Students and employees can contact Human Resources.

  • Can I use e-cigarettes on campus?


    E-cigarettes may not be used on campus property.  The new state law and university policy prohibits 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-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 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.

    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.

  • How can I apply for an exemption to the Smoke Free &Tobacco Free Campus Policy?


    For consideration of an exemption send an e-mail to the Associate Vice President of Facilities Development and Management. Requests must be submitted at least 10 business days in advance of the date/time of the requested exemption. Exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. GSU reserves the right to determine location, safety and security measures for all requested exemptions. Exemptions may include a requirement for special set up and ventilation. All associated set-up and equipment costs are the responsibility of the student/student group requesting the exemption. A response will be provided within five business days of the request.

    • Full name and GSUID of requesting student/staff/faculty
    • Telephone number
    • Name of student group (if applicable)
    • Date and time of requested exemption
    • Specific purpose of the exemption (religious, medical, etc.)
    • Intended audience for exemption and number of participants
    • Attach related documentation citing the rationale for the exemption


  • Who should I contact if I have comments or suggestions?


    Submit your thoughts via the comments section of the Smoke Free and Tobacco Free campus website. If you would like an answer, please provide your name and email address. If you prefer to keep your communication confidential, simply send your comment without identifying yourself.

  • Who should I contact if I am interested in helping with Smoke Free efforts on campus?