Frequently Asked Questions

Updated 5/2010

Why ban tobacco products on Washington University campuses?
Washington University strives to foster a healthy, comfortable and productive work and learning environment for students, faculty and staff. Tobacco use negatively impacts the entire community. Smoke-free environments significantly reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, which has been associated with health problems such as heart disease and respiratory illnesses.

This is an investment in the health of our faculty, staff and students similar to other University wellness initiatives, including, health fairs, flu shots and preventive care benefits included in the university’s health insurance plans.

When does the policy take effect?
The tobacco-free policy takes effect July 1, 2010.

Why not still allow people smoke outdoors? Is there a real health risk to others from secondhand smoke if a person smokes outside a building or enclosure?
The risk of secondhand smoke is less but still present. Washington University’s goal is to provide a totally smoke- and tobacco-free environment; allowing smoking on the grounds is inconsistent with that goal.

Will it be OK to use a tobacco form that isn’t smoked, such as chew?
The policy includes smokeless tobacco, including chew.

But chewing tobacco doesn’t put others at risk, so why ban it?
The health risks associated with "chew" are well documented, so we have included all forms of tobacco in our smoke- and tobacco-free policy.

Does the tobacco-free policy apply to all Washington University campuses? What about fraternities and off-campus housing managed by the University?
This policy applies to all campuses and the off-campus housing managed by Residential Life and Greek Life. Off-campus residential facilities managed by Quadrangle Housing are not affected at this time. (Download a pdf map of the tobacco-free areas.) Visit for more information about the medical campus.

May I smoke in my car?
If your car is on WUSTL property, no.

May I use electronic cigarettes on Washington University campuses?
No. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or personal vaporizers, are not to be used on university owned and managed property.

Does this policy apply to students’ off-campus activities?
No. This policy applies only to WUSTL campus property.

Will I be permitted to take longer for my smoke break, since I may have to go farther to take a smoke break?
The decision whether to offer employees paid breaks or not is a department decision. If employees are permitted to take paid breaks by the department, employees who smoke will be afforded the same amount of time as employees who do not smoke.

Smoking is a powerful addiction and people who smoke will have an adjustment time when the new policy is effective. As the transition is made to the tobacco-free environment, all are encouraged to be supportive and respectful of those who smoke.

Will visitors be able to use tobacco at WUSTL?
The same policy applies to visitors—they are not permitted to smoke on WUSTL property.

Hasn’t Washington University’s School of Medicine’s campus already been tobacco-free for some time?
The School of Medicine adopted a tobacco-free policy in 2007.

What portion of the Washington University community will be affected by this change?
Most recent data shows that 11 percent of WUSTL students have smoked in the past 30 days, which is less than national rates for college students (17 percent).

Is Washington University providing any services to assist students, faculty and staff who would like to quit smoking or using tobacco?
For more information on smoking cessation programs for students, faculty and staff, visit the cessation program section.

More information for students is available at

For more information on smoking cessation programs for faculty and staff, visit the cessation services section at or

How will the tobacco-free policy be enforced?
Ultimately, our hope is to achieve voluntary compliance with the tobacco-free policy, aided by community enforcement of its terms. There are clear challenges associated with the enforcement of this policy; however, similar to all University policies, we each have a responsibility to comply. While not preferred, if necessary, disciplinary actions for violations, tailored to each constituency within the community, may be implemented.