Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to be a 100 percent smoke/tobacco-free campus?

A 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy prohibits smoking and tobacco use on all campus property, including all indoor and outdoor areas. This includes but is not limited to walkways, outdoor common areas, and parking lots.  New Jersey state law prohibits smoking in all indoor areas, within 25 feet of public buildings (including colleges and universities), and in all state-owned vehicles.  A 100 percent tobacco- and smoke-free policy includes products such as: cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pipes, roll-your-own tobacco, smokeless tobacco, snus, and electronic nicotine delivery systems (e.g., e-cigarettes).

A 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy also prohibits sale of all tobacco-related products and merchandise on campus; eliminates all tobacco-industry advertising, promotions, and marketing from campus literature; removes all athletic sponsorship from tobacco-related companies; and refuses any funding from tobacco companies.

What are risks of tobacco use?

There are a multitude of known health risks clearly linked to tobacco use. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, and 69 of them are known carcinogens – substances that can cause cancer in living tissues. Smoking cigarettes harms almost every organ in our bodies. Known health risks of smoking and tobacco use include: heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and many other forms of cancers, emphysema and bronchitis, and type 2 diabetes. Tobacco is the primary cause of more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S.

Why is going tobacco free important for William Paterson University?

Recognizing the health, safety, and comfort benefits of smoke-free air and tobacco-free spaces, William Paterson University is choosing to go tobacco-free. This policy represents an extension of the University’s student and employee wellness initiatives, all aimed at fostering a healthier, more productive living and learning environment while working towards reduced health care costs.

This initiative is intended to preserve and protect the health of younger adults who make up the largest demographic of students. College students who live in smoke-free residences are more likely to be non-smokers. Additionally, young people who quit smoking before the age of 30 almost completely eliminate increased risk of mortality due to diseases brought on by smoking and tobacco use.

Tobacco and smoke-free campus policies are proven to decrease current smoking prevalence in students, decrease the number of cigarettes used by those who continue to smoke, positively influence students’ perceptions of peer smoking, change social norms around tobacco use, and increase favorable attitudes towards regulation of tobacco.11

With a 100 percent tobacco-free policy, we are also striving to create a ”green” environment, and to promote a clean, sustainable campus.

Are other universities and colleges tobacco free?

Yes. There is a growing trend of over 2,500 campuses nationwide that are smoke-free, with 2,076 that are 100 percent tobacco-free. In New Jersey, William Paterson is proud to be among 19 smoke-free campuses, of which 10 are fully tobacco-free.

When will the policy take effect?

The policy goes into effect January 1, 2022. This policy is being announced in January 2021, one year prior to its full implementation, in order to facilitate a smooth transition to a tobacco-free environment.

How does this policy differ from the previous smoking policy?

The previous policy, which was implemented over 25 years ago, prohibited smoking in buildings. The new tobacco-free campus policy promotes a respectful and healthy environment by eliminating any form of tobacco use anywhere on campus. The previous policy, which prohibitssmoking within 25 feet of any University facility entrance remains effective even during the transitional period.

Who is affected by this policy?

The policy will apply to everyone who is on University-owned property. All University employees, students, visitors, vendors, and contractors are required to comply with the guidelinesand refrain from using tobacco products on our campuses.

What about designated smoking areas?

We recognize that this may be a difficult transition for many tobacco users.  Until January 1, 2022, the University will utilize designated smoking areas in order to give smokers time to adapt to the new policy  restrictions and to facilitate a smooth transition to a tobacco-free environment. The University is establishing 14 designated smoking zones where individuals may smoke tobacco products and e-cigarettes (the use of marijuana, or any other illegal substances is prohibited). Designated smoking areas will be located at least 25 feet from all entries, outdoor air intakes, and operable windows. Smokers/tobacco users must stay within 10 feet of the ashtrays provided at these zones until they have completely finished smoking. Tobacco users are responsible for disposing of all tobacco products in appropriate receptacles. Click here to view the map of the 14 designated smoking areas.  

What is considered a tobacco product and prohibited by the policy?

For the purpose of the policy, tobacco is defined as all tobacco-derived products including, but not limited to, cigarettes; electronic vapor products (such as e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs, e-pipes, vape pens, hookah pens, and personal vaporizers/mods); little cigars, cigarillos, and filtered cigars; traditional cigars or large (premium) cigars; hookah, chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip; snus; and dissolvable tobacco (sticks, strips, orbs). A tobacco product excludes any product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale as a tobacco cessation product, as a tobacco dependence product, or for other medical purposes, and is being marketed and sold solely for such an approved purpose.

Why are e-cigarettes included? Aren’t they designed to help people quit smoking? 

E-cigarettes are prohibited by the University’s tobacco-free policy. E-cigarettes are a relatively new product with little information about their safety and effects on human health. Currently, the products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and it is illegal to market them as a way to quit tobacco; however, the FDA does have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product. It’s a common misconception that e-cigarettes emit a harmless water vapor. Research reveals that the solution used in e-cigarettes does contain toxic contaminants and these contaminants are released into the environment when a user exhales the aerosol. Furthermore, recent research is showing a drastic increase in use of e-cigarettes, especially among youth and young adults. Since e-cigarettes are misunderstood to be a device used to quit smoking, young people are more willing to experiment with the products, which may lead to long-term nicotine addiction. Comprehensive tobacco-free policies, which prohibit e-cigarettes and other nicotine products not regulated by the FDA for cessation purposes, may discourage the initiation of novelty smoking and nicotine delivery devices.

Why is smokeless tobacco included in this policy?

Smokeless tobacco spit is considered a biohazard and contains at least 24 carcinogenic chemicals. Spit tobacco often creates unwanted hazardous waste and byproducts, which require disposal by campus maintenance staff.  A dip of smokeless tobacco typically contains three to five times more nicotine than a cigarette. Smokeless tobacco use is often a precursor to cigarette use.

Why is marijuana included in this policy? Isn’t it now legal in New Jersey?

Irrespective of state law to the contrary, cannabis is a Schedule I Controlled Substance under federal law, defined as the parts, products, and derivatives of the plant Cannabis sativa, indica, ruderalis and hybrid strains, including medical marijuana.

Consuming any cannabis item available for lawful consumption (including by smoking, vaping, or aerosolizing) is prohibited in any area of any building, on the grounds of, or in any facility owned, leased, or controlled by the William Paterson University, regardless of whether the area or facility is an indoor place or is outdoors. To comply with federal laws, including the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act, drugs including the possession or use of marijuana are not allowed on the William Paterson University campus.

Is the University requiring that people quit tobacco products?

No. The University’s policy states that smoking and tobacco use will not be allowed on University grounds. For those who choose to quit the use of tobacco products, the University provides support through various tobacco cessation programs. 

What will WP do to help employees and students who want to quit using tobacco?

Overcoming nicotine dependence can be extremely difficult – more people in the U.S. are addicted to nicotine than any other drug. Withdrawal symptoms range from mild to debilitating. Quitting smoking may sound daunting, but help is available to support tobacco users who wish to quit. The University will provide ongoing tobacco cessation support to the members of the community to ensure that the benefits of the new policy are maintained, and that the burden of enforcement is reduced. A number of tobacco cessation quit lines and services are available to students, employees, and their family members who wish to access cessation counseling. Faculty and staff enrolled in the University’s health benefit plans have access to low-cost or no-cost cessation counseling and prescription products. Click here to view a complete description of cessation services.

What questions should I ask my insurance company to find out whether nicotine replacement therapies are covered under my plan?

Due to recent changes in insurance plan coverage and the Affordable Care Act, many individuals are discovering that their insurance plans cover the cost of prescription and over-the-counter cessation products with minimal or no out-of-pocket costs. We encourage you to contact your insurance plan provider to better understand your coverage. Here are a few guiding questions to help you with that discussion:

  • 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?

Why not keep designated smoking areas in place?

Designated smoking areas are often good to have during a transitional period to a 100 percent smoke-free campus; however, they are problematic if kept for too long. Overall, designated smoking areas have many more disadvantages than benefits. A study from Stanford University found that in outdoor designated areas with multiple smokers, levels of toxic air contaminants from secondhand smoke may be the same or higher than indoors, thus creating a hazardous environment to individuals standing in or around these areas. Additionally, secondhand smoke is proven to travel outside of designated areas; distance depends on wind strength and direction. Designated areas have also been found to encourage tobacco use by creating a social environment for tobacco users. By increasing the number of individuals smoking in one area, students are more likely to believe that more people smoke than actually do. This misperception affects the norm of smoking on campus and may also contribute to increased tobacco use. Finally, designated areas are often heavily littered and smell of toxic tobacco waste.

What are the borders of the tobacco-free environment?

The legal property lines of all University-owned facilities constitute the boundaries of the WP tobacco-free environment. This includes any area of any building, parking areas, on the grounds and wooded areas of, or in any facility owned, leased, or controlled by the University, regardless of whether the area or facility is an indoor place or is outdoors. 

Can I smoke in my personal car?

Tobacco use, including smoking in your personal vehicle, is not permitted while on University campus premises, including WP parking lots and the parking garage.

Does the policy prohibit me from bringing cigarettes or other tobacco products to a WP facility?

No. Only the actual or apparent use (e.g., ‘smoking’ an unlit cigarette) of such products on campus is prohibited.

How will the tobacco-free policy be enforced?

An educational approach will be used to enforce this policy, based on the guiding principle of respect for all. This means mechanisms of education, peer support and encouragement, and only when necessary, supervisory oversight. We hope this principle will help guide everyone as we transition to a healthier tobacco-free environment. From review of other campuses, best practice suggests that these changes in culture can happen with everyone working to be respectful of the policy. Repeated abuse of the policy will be addressed through the Student Conduct Office for students and Human Resources for employees. Compliance can be achieved through consistent messaging and policy education.

How should managers/supervisors talk to employees about the policy?

The tobacco-free policy is a quality-of-life issue for all members of the campus. Managers, deans, department heads, and supervisors should inform all employees of this policy and employees are expected to comply.

I supervise several employees who smoke. How will they manage under the new policy?

Should they choose to do so, employees may use their allotted meal or break periods to go off campus to smoke. However, be sure to clarify that employees will not be given additional meal or break time for smoking.

How will the University inform visitors about the tobacco-free campus?

All University students, faculty, and staff will be informed about the WP tobacco-free policy and how they should alert visitors coming to campus. Signage will be prominently displayed at all entrances to the University as well as on the WP website. Admissions, along with other campus units, will add discussion of the policy to their agenda for tours and when they make visits off campus. 

What should I do if I see someone smoking on campus (or smoking outside designated smoking areas until January 2022)?

The University will supply those interested with small cards that note the University’s tobacco-free status. The easiest approach is simply to hand the smoker such a card. If you are comfortable speaking to the smoker, you can say: "Are you aware that we do not allow the use of tobacco products of any kind on our campus? I ask you to please respect our policy and put out your cigarette (or other tobacco product). We appreciate your respect for our campus environment."

While designated smoking areas are in the effect, you can say: “Are you aware that the use of tobacco products is allowed only in designated smoking areas? I ask you to please respect our policy to use tobacco only in these areas. We appreciate your respect for our campus environment." There shall be no reprisal against anyone seeking assistance in enforcing this policy.

Will a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy impact enrollment?

Research has shown that there is no association between the adoption of a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy and a decrease in student enrollment.12In fact, many colleges and universities promote a healthy and tobacco-free campus environment as a way of increasing enrollment.

Why should I comply with the smoke-free policy?

Civility and respect for others are what guide us in establishing and maintaining a tobacco-free campus. While this change may be difficult for tobacco users at first, we hope that all members of the University community will respect each other and the environment by adhering to our smoke-free policy.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014) The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
  2. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative.
  3. Anthony, J.C., Warner, L.A., and Kessler, R.C. (1994). Comparative epidemiology of dependence on tobacco, alcohol, controlled substances and inhalants: Basic findings from the National Comorbidity Survey. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2(3): 244-268.
  4. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults - A Report of the Surgeon General.
  5. Siddiqi K, Shah S, Abbas SM, Vidyasagaran A, Jawad M, Dogar O, et al. (2015) Global burden of disease due to smokeless tobacco consumption in adults: analysis of data from 113 countries. BMC Med. 17;13.
  6. Teo KK, Ounpuu S, Hawken S, Pandey MR, Valentin V, Hunt D, et al. (2016). Tobacco use and risk of myocardial infarction in 52 countries in the INTERHEART study: a case-control study. Lancet Lond Engl. 368(9536):647–58.
  7. Xu X, Bishop EE, Kennedy SM, Simpson SA, Pechacek TF. Annual healthcare spending attributable to cigarette smoking: an update. Am J Prev Med. 2015 Mar;48(3):326–33.
  8. American College Health Association. Position Statement on Tobacco on College and University Campuses. November, 2011
  9. American Non-Smoker Rights Foundation: Smoke-free and Tobacco-Free U.S. and Tribal Colleges and Universities.
  10. Kecojevic A, Kernan WD, Urena A, Pereda A, Shair R, Amaya-Fernandez E. (2020). Support for 100% Tobacco-Free Policy on a College Campus in New Jersey: Differences between students and faculty/staff. Journal of Public Health. 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s10389-020-01344-6
  11. Seo, D.C., Macey, J., Torabi, M., & Middlestadt. (2011). The effect of a smoke-free campus policy on college students’ smoking behaviors and attitudes. Preventive Medicine, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.07.015.
  12. Miller, K., Yu, D., Lee, J., Ranney, L., Simons, D., Goldstein, A. (2015). Impact of the adoption of tobacco-free campus pol-icies on student enrollment at colleges at colleges and universities, North Carolina, 2001-2010. Journal of American College Health. 18:0