Saint Xavier University Tobacco Free Campus

Tobacco-Free Campus

Tobacco-free campus faqs

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about SXU being a Tobacco-Free Campus.

When is Saint Xavier University's policy effective?

The Tobacco-Free Campus Policy is effective January 1, 2017.

Why did our campus go tobacco free?

One of Saint Xavier University's core values is a commitment to excellence which impels both individuals and the University itself to consistently strive for outcomes that are exemplary rather than simply satisfactory. SXU always looks at evidence-based best practices to support procedures and policies. The Tobacco-Free Task Force considered the following:

  1. Individuals have the right to live, work and learn in a healthy environment, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke for employees, students and guests. Multiple studies affirm that there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, including outdoor smoke.
  2. A study conducted by the Student Government Association given to students, faculty and staff indicated a 67% majority showed support for a tobacco-free campus.
  3. A tobacco-free campus will create a more welcoming environment for prospective students and employees and will set a positive example for the community.
  4. A tobacco-free campus would discourage the initiation and increased use of tobacco products in young adults, a population primarily served by Saint Xavier University.
  5. All forms of tobacco use poses a health threat, and SXU is committed to providing a supportive environment for those who have a nicotine addiction. A tobacco-free campus promotes cessation which will encourage users to reduce the consumption of tobacco while on campus and will create a supportive environment for those trying to quit.
  6. There are increased costs associated with tobacco use including absenteeism, health care and medical insurance costs.
  7. A tobacco-free campus is in alignment with the research-based evidence and recommendations of the Surgeon General, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American College Health Association (ACHA), National Association Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA), and the State of Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act. As of April 2013, more than 1,100 college campuses across the country have enacted 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free policies, with the trend steadily increasing for the past few years.
  8. Tobacco litter negatively impacts campus aesthetics and increases institutional cleaning and maintenance costs. 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. Reducing cigarette butt litter will beautify our campus and lower clean-up costs. Cigarette butts are also dangerous when consumed by wildlife, pets or young children.
  9. A tobacco-free campus would improve fire safety by reducing accidental fires.
  10. Nicotine dependence is an addiction that is caused by use of all tobacco products.

What process was involved in making this decision?

The Tobacco-Free Campus Policy has been under consideration since October 2014 when the Student Government Association presented a resolution to the members of the Cabinet. At the request of the SXU Executive Committee, President Christine Wiseman formed a task force with representation from a cross section of faculty, staff and students to fully vet the student proposal. The task force met on an ongoing basis from November 2014 to February 2015 and after a detailed review of the current policy, best practices, the survey results, data from relevant health agencies and other related information, the committee recommended a tobacco-free policy. The President and her Cabinet members reviewed the 2015 recommendation and conducted a survey in April 2016. The results showed overwhelming support for a tobacco-free campus. President Wiseman adopted the policy effective January 1, 2017.

Did you provide students, faculty and staff an opportunity to voice their opinion on a policy change?

The Student Government conducted a survey in 2012 that yielded 413 respondents representing students, faculty, and staff. It showed that 77.7% had not used tobacco products in the last three months and 67% support a tobacco-free campus at SXU.

The Cabinet survey conducted in 2016 that yielded 464 respondents yielded that over 82% of respondents found the scientific evidence regarding firsthand, secondhand and thirdhand smoke compelling enough to support the premise that SXU must be a healthy environment in which all members can live, work and learn. It also showed that nearly 70% support a tobacco-free campus.

Why does SXU need a new policy?

The previous policy was ineffective and did not address public health concerns. That policy, which prohibited smoking within 15 feet of buildings, was not working and many members of the SXU community requested a more restrictive policy.

To whom does the tobacco-free policy apply?

The policy applies to anyone who is on the SXU campus, including faculty and staff members, students, contractors, vendors, volunteers and visitors. It applies to all tobacco and smoking products and e-cigarettes, chewing tobacco and vapor pens/cigarettes.

Why did SXU choose tobacco free rather than smoke free?

Tobacco-free policies take into account overall health and ethical behavior of an institution, whereas the principle objective of smoke-free policies is to reduce secondhand smoke.

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 OK." 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.

The evidence overwhelming supports a tobacco-free campus because tobacco use in all forms is a significant health risk.

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

The campus was very interested in having all groups represented during the policy development which is why representatives from different stakeholder groups served on the task force. The representatives from students, staff and faculty provided a stream of questions and concerns from their constituents during the process.

What are your plans for implementation?

During 2016-17 school year, multiple endeavors will be underway to inform members of the campus community about how the decision to become tobacco free occurred and provide information about the implementation process. SXU will use various media outlets and departments to communicate and educate the SXU community.

Isn't tobacco use a personal right?

No, it is not a legally protected activity or right. Tobacco use is a legal product for adults, and SXU is not asking anyone to quit. However, the university owns campus property and can establish policies that protect the health of all campus members. Our Tobacco-Free Campus Policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it merely establishes where use can occur. The new policy supports the ability of all people on the campus to breathe smoke-free air. The simple reason for the policy is respect for each other and the environment. We hope that tobacco users who choose to continue using tobacco will respect our tobacco-free environment out of concern for their fellow campus community members.

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, and
  • 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%).
  • 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. Our campus welcomes area residents who use our grounds as a park in this urban setting. Our neighbors stroll our property with their children and pets on a daily basis, and Mother McAuley and Brother Rice students traverse our property on their way to school. Additionally, we have a partnership with Morgan Park, along with a myriad of summer camps and special events, that attract children on our campus for additional income and as a recruitment tool.

Can people smoke in their own vehicles on the tobacco-free campus? What about in University vehicles?

Smoking in private, leased or borrowed vehicles parked on campus property is not allowed under the new policy. Smoking in University vehicles has been prohibited for several years and remains so under the new policy.

Does this apply to the Orland Park campus as well?

Yes. All SXU-owned property is included in the policy, with the exception of Gilhooley's Grande Saloon that will continue to follow the City of Chicago laws which allows smoking on city streets and sidewalks that are 15 feet from doorways.

How will people know where they can and cannot smoke?

All campus-owned property is tobacco-free. Signs will be posted on campus. An online map identifies the boundaries of the campus. The City of Chicago allows smoking on streets and sidewalks that are 15 feet from doorways.

Will there be designated smoking areas on campus? Why not build a smoking area?

No areas will be designated as smoking areas. The purpose of the policy is to create a health-supporting community. SXU permitted smoking zones and perimeter policies from 2000-2015 and found it to be noneffective and difficult to enforce. Smoking shelters are expensive to construct and exposes those who maintain them to secondhand smoke. Campuses with full tobacco-free policies have reported fewer problems with compliance than policies that include smoking areas.

Tobacco use has a strong social component. Research indicates that designated areas would actually promote more tobacco use on campus.

Gilhooley's Grande Saloon will continue to follow the City of Chicago laws which allows smoking on city streets and sidewalks that are 15 feet from doorways.

Why not ban other unhealthy substances, like high-fat foods?

SXU is continually seeking ways to create a clean, safe and healthier environment. We have added healthier food choices in our cafeterias and vending machines and will continue to create a more sustainable environment. However, the health risks associated with the consumption of unhealthy foods only negatively effects the individual choosing to consume that product, not others around them.

What about football games, concerts or other public events?

All events occurring on campus-owned property are covered by the Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. SXU athletes are covered under the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and their Official and Policy Handbook bans the use of tobacco or tobacco products by participants, coaches, cheerleaders, trainers, game administrators and officials in the playing areas during all NAIA-sanctioned competition and practices for such competitions.

Are there any exceptions?

Exceptions will be considered for special ceremonial smoking and tobacco use in research. Please read the SXU Tobacco-Free Campus Policy for details as to what that entails.

For consideration for an exemption, send an email to Interim Provost Suzanne Lee, Ed.D., at slee@sxu.edu with the following information:

  • Full name and SXU ID 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

Requests must be submitted at least 15 business days in advance of the date of the requested exemption. Exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. SXU 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.

What happens to employees and students if they don't quit smoking?

This policy does not remove any person's right to use tobacco, but it does prohibit such behaviors on university property. The policy is built on a foundation of respect for both tobacco users and those who do not use tobacco, engendering an environment of mutual respect and clean air.

All employees, students and visitors are expected to comply with the policy by not using tobacco products on campus property. Repeated policy violations of any kind could result in disciplinary action. If you are interested in quitting, the campus provides cessation programs to help you quit. If you need help managing nicotine withdrawal symptoms to get through the day, you can contact the SXU Health Center for information about cessation programs and products that can help you quit.

How is the policy enforced?

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

  • The campus communication campaign will get the word out about the specifics of the policy. The campus continues to educate about the policy through flyers, handouts, informational events, notices in campus publications and signs around campus.
  • A map is posted on the SXU 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.
  • The only way to ensure a tobacco-free environment is for everyone to be actively involved with enforcement. Faculty, staff and students who see individuals smoking on university grounds may respectfully inform these individuals of the university policy prohibiting tobacco use anywhere on university grounds. Use the SMOKE approach:
    • SMILE.
    • MAKE THE ASSUMPTION that they do not know about the policy.
    • OFFER the person information about our policy.
    • KINDLY ask them to dispose of their tobacco.
    • EXIT if the situation is uncomfortable, or if the person continues to smoke, report the violation.

If you need to report a violation, notify a member of Human Resources if the person is an employee, Student Affairs for students and Public Safety for visitors.

Reporting mechanism: People can report noncompliance using our online report form. Noncompliance 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.

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

The campus has expanded their tobacco cessation options for students and employees. A number of resources are available to help smokers quit or reduce their use of tobacco. They include, but are not limited to, the following resources: smoking cessation classes, nicotine replacement therapies and informational/educational materials. Those who desire individualized therapy, including prescriptions for smoking cessation, should call the SXU Health Center for an appointment (773-298-3712). Group smoking cessation classes (mimicking the Courage to Quit Program created by the Respiratory Health Association) will be offered when there is interest by students and/or employees. Please call the Health Center or email healthcenter@sxu.edu to make your interest known.

Additionally, the Illinois Tobacco Quitline provides free, one-on-one phone counseling and support at 1-866-QUIT-YES. This is a statewide telephone helpline staffed by trained counselors who can provide information about quitting and can work with you to develop a customized quit smoking plan. Employees covered under the University's health insurance plan should contact BC/BS at 1-866-412-8795 or your primary care physician.

Can I use e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes may not be used on campus property. The Tobacco-Free Campus Task Force explored this extensively. They are banned 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 e-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 e-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
    • U.S. 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 behavior-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.

What can supervisors do to help personnel comply with the policy?

It is important to realize that an employee who violates the SXU Tobacco-Free Campus Policy will be dealing with a powerful addiction. A face-to-face meeting with the employee to discuss concerns is always the best place to start. The following tips can help:

  • Gain agreement with the employee that the problem exists.
  • Emphasize that you don't expect or require the employee to quit tobacco use, but that the employee must comply with the SXU Tobacco-Free Campus Policy while on SXU property.
  • If the employee indicates an interest in quitting, direct him or her to available resources.

Is there any change to existing break policies to allow smokers to go off campus to smoke?

No. Non-exempt employees will continue to get the same breaks and meal periods currently in effect.

I have ideas or concerns. Who should I contact?

There are two ways to provide feedback:

  1. Submit your thoughts via the Feedback page. 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.
  2. Submit ideas or express concerns to the Tobacco-Free Task Force at tobaccofree@sxu.edu. The Tobacco-Free Task Force will respond within 48 hours.

I am interested in helping with tobacco-free efforts on campus. Who should I contact?

Contact the Tobacco-Free Task Force at tobaccofree@sxu.edu.