Montana State University

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MSU Tobacco Free Campus Policy

INTRODUCTION: Tobacco use and secondhand smoke have been identified by the Surgeon General to be the cause of preventable diseases. Additionally, in 2009, the Montana legislature decreed that the "right to breathe smoke-free air has priority over the desire to smoke" (Montana Code 50-40-102). It is the policy of MSU to promote the health, wellness, and safety of all employees, students, guests, visitors, and contractors while on campus. Therefore, the campus will be free of tobacco-use effective August 1, 2012.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this policy is create a healthier, cleaner campus living and learning environment on the campus. Therefore, all use of tobacco on the MSU campus, including all facilities operated under the control of MSU, is prohibited.

DEFINITION: For the purposes of this policy, "tobacco" is defined to include any tobacco product, including but not limited to any lighted or unlighted cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, hookah, and all forms of smokeless tobacco and any nicotine delivery device that has not been approved by the FDA for cessation.


  1. The use of tobacco (including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco and all other tobacco products) by students, faculty, staff, guests, visitors, and contractors is prohibited on all properties owned or leased by MSU, including:
    1. all interior space on the MSU campus and property leased by MSU, including the agricultural research centers and other remote sites;
    2. all outside property or grounds on MSU's campuses, including areas such as walkways, breezeways, parking lots, and patios;
    3. all outside property leased by MSU;
    4. all vehicles leased or owned by MSU;
    5. all indoor and outdoor athletic facilities.
  2. Advertising, sale, or distribution of tobacco is prohibited on MSU's campus.
  3. Tobacco industry and related company sponsorship of campus groups, events, individuals, and departments is prohibited. This includes scholarships, sponsorship of faculty positions, and recruiting for employment. Tobacco industry and related company sponsorship of MSU athletic events and MSU athletes is prohibited.
  4. Littering any university property, whether owned or leased, with the remains of tobacco products is prohibited.
  5. Organizers and attendees at public events, such as conferences, meetings, public lectures, social events, cultural events, and sporting events using MSU facilities are required to abide by MSU's tobacco-free policy. Organizers of such events are responsible for communicating the policy to attendees and for enforcing this policy.

TOBACCO USE CESSATION PROGRAMS: Students and employees wanting to quit the use of tobacco can access the Montana Quit Line at 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUIT-NOW). Employees on the MUS medical benefits plan can also contact the MUS Employee Benefits Department at 1-877-501-1722 or visit the MUS benefits website at to explore eligibility for the Tobacco Cessation Benefit.

COMPLIANCE: All university employees, students, visitors, guests, and contractors are required to comply with this policy, which shall remain in effect at all times. Refusal to comply with this policy may be cause for disciplinary action in accordance with employee and student conduct policies. Refusal to comply with the policy by visitors, guests and contractors may be grounds for removal from campus.

EXCEPTIONS: The following activities may be conducted as exceptions to the policy subject to advance approval as indicated.

  1. The use of tobacco products in laboratory and classroom instruction/experiments, or for artistic purposes. All research, educational, and/or artistic purposes that involve the use of tobacco on campus must be approved in advance by the Provost or designee. Such use must be preceded by reasonable advance notice to the public. Nothing in this policy is intended to prohibit research on tobacco companies or tobacco products.
  2. Specific activities used in connection with the practice of cultural activities by American Indians that are in accordance with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 42 U.S.C. sections 1996 and 1996a allow for the use of ceremonial tobacco. All ceremonial use exceptions must be approved in advance by the President of MSU or his/her designee.

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Tobacco Free Campus Policy Frequently Asked Questions

 When will Montana State become tobacco-free?

  • The policy goes into effect on August 1, 2012.

Why is MSU going tobacco-free?

  • The university seeks to provide a clean and healthy environment for all students, employees and visitors. A tobacco-free campus policy will:
    • Protect people from unwanted and involuntary exposure to tobacco and passive smoke;
    • Promote cessation and create a supporting environment for those who are trying to quit tobacco;
    • Create a cleaner living, learning and working environment.
  • According to the CDC, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing an estimated 443,000 Americans annually. Closer to home, 1,400 Montanans are estimated to die each year from smoking; many others die from exposure to secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco. The CDC estimates that between one third and one half of all smokers will die from their addiction to tobacco.
  • Multiple studies affirm that there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke, including outdoor smoke.
  • Campus is the number one location where MSU students are exposed to secondhand smoke:
    • 73% of MSU students report being exposed to smoke on campus;
    • 21% of MSU students report immediate health problems, such as asthma attacks, headaches, eye irritation, allergic reactions and other health effects;
    • Pregnant women, children, people with bronchitis, respiratory problems, asthma, heart conditions and cancer are especially susceptible to passive smoke.

What process was involved in making this decision?

  • The process began in 2008 with wide-scale discussions about tobacco prevention and cessation, including consideration of the approximately 270 campuses around the country with tobacco-free policies. Numerous public forums and presentations were made during this time.
  • MSU, along with seven other campuses in Montana have been involved in tobacco prevention and policy efforts as part of a state-level coalition, which started in 2005.
  • In the Fall of 2010, ASMSU put forth a referendum for a full student vote in March 2011: 61% of students voted in favor of a tobacco-free campus.
  • This was followed by a poll of all MSU employees in April 2011: 72% voted in support of the students’ referendum.
  • A policy was drafted and posted for public comment in July 2011.
  • In October 2011, the University Council voted unanimously in favor of the tobacco-free policy, to go into effect August 2012.

Why does this include smokeless tobacco?

  • Smokeless tobacco use at MSU is nearly four times the national average. A tobacco-free policy sends a consistent health message by not implying that one form of tobacco is safe. There are no safe forms or levels of tobacco use. The policy promotes and protects the health of all campus members, users and non-users alike.
    • Smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing agents, and the amount of nicotine absorbed from spit tobacco is 3 to 4 times the amount delivered by cigarettes.
    • Smokeless tobacco can lead to oral cancers, gum disease and increased nicotine addiction (U.S. Surgeon General). Snuff and Snus have been found to increases the risk of cancer, stroke and fatal cardiovascular disease (The International Agency for Research on Cancer).
    • While marketing of cigarettes is on the decline, marketing of smokeless products has risen 400% in the last 20 years (FTC). Marketing of smokeless tobacco products target youth by associating the product with sports and adventure activities, implying that use is part of a healthy lifestyle.
  • Tobacco-free policies are now a national standard for college campuses, advocated by major health agencies. MSU will become the sixth campus in Montana to adopt this approach (Montana Tech has been tobacco-free since July 2010; UM’s tobacco-free policy went into effect August 2011).

Are e-cigarettes included?

  • Yes, the policy prohibits all forms of tobacco and any nicotine delivery device that has not been approved by the FDA for cessation (the FDA has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes as a “tobacco product” under the Tobacco Control Act). National health agencies remain skeptical of the safety of these devices due to a lack of scientific data. Until FDA approval is granted, these will not be allowed on campus, which is consistent with national standards and guidelines.

Isn’t it my right to use tobacco?

  • Tobacco use is a legal product for adults. However, the university owns campus property and can establish policies that protect the health of all campus members. A tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use, this merely establishes where use can occur. In addition, Montana law recognizes that an individual’s right to breathe smoke-free air takes priority over an individual’s desire to smoke (MCA 5-40-102).

Does the tobacco-free MSU policy extend to other campus-owned property?

  • Yes, the policy encompasses all university owned property. Tobacco use will be prohibited in all university owned vehicles as well.

Will there be designated smoking areas on campus?

  • No. The use of tobacco will be prohibited on all campus grounds. Smoking zones and perimeter policies have not been found to be effective (or enforceable) and smoking shelters are expensive to construct and maintain. Campuses with full tobacco-free policies have reported fewer problems with compliance than policies that include smoking areas.

Will there be a map that shows the exact areas included in the policy?

  • Yes. This will be developed during the educational phase of policy implementation, which will include the specific boundaries.

What about football games, concerts or other public events?

  • All events occurring on campus or on campus-property will be covered by the tobacco-free policy. Signage, electronic and printed notices will be provided to visitors at games and events to make sure everyone is clearly informed about the policy.

How will the policy be enforced?

  • Initially there will be an emphasis on education as the campus and community adapt to the policy. Violators will receive a friendly reminder, along with cessation information. Repeat or problem violations will be handled like any other conduct issue on campus: either through the Dean of Student’s office or the employee’s department.
  • A recent study of tobacco-free campuses found that most campus members respect the policy once they are informed. Serious enforcement problems are infrequent and are managed by campus officials.

What should I do if I see someone using tobacco on campus?

  • The policy will best be enforced by everyone taking an active role in informing people that a tobacco-free policy is in effect. A large majority of MSU students and employees support a tobacco-free environment, so it is appropriate for you to speak up.
  • If you notice an area where people are consistently violating the policy, you can report this to the MSU Tobacco-free Task Force by writing to

How should I respond if someone gets angry or aggressive?

  • Do not continue to speak to anyone who becomes angry or confrontational. Walk away and report the behavior to University Police.

What about ceremonial use of tobacco?

  • Specific American Indian ceremonial activities are protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Use must be approved in advance by campus administration or designee.

How can I quit (or help someone I know quit)?

  • Tobacco-free policies have been shown to encourage people to quit. These policies also support those who are trying to quit. Free quit-kits are available in the Health Promotion office (second floor of the Student Health Service).
  • The Montana Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) provides individual coaching and free or low-cost cessation support, including nicotine replacement therapies and prescription drugs.
  • For more information on campus and community cessation support, visit

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

  • MSU Health Promotion has an ongoing task force and an active student group working to prevent tobacco use on campus and support cessation. Contact Health Promotion at 994-7337 or

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Tobacco-free MSU

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing an estimated 443,000 Americans annually (CDC). Closer to home, 1,400 Montanans are estimated to die each year from smoking; many others die from exposure to secondhand smoke and smokeless tobacco (CDC). The CDC further estimates that between one third and one half of all smokers will die from their addiction to tobacco, suggesting an estimated 757 to 1,100 current MSU students could die prematurely from tobacco use.

Tobacco use in the U.S. leads to increased health care costs, a burden to the public. According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use results in health care costs and lost productivity totaling $193 billion each year.

  • According to the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids, in Montana:
    • Tobacco addiction costs Montanans an estimated $277 million annually in health care costs and $305 million in lost productivity.
    • Residents’ state & federal tax burden from tobacco related government expenditures: $557 per household.

According to the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (University of Wisconsin Medical School):

  • Smokers miss an average of 6.16 days of work due to illness compared to 3.86 for nonsmokers.
  • The CDC estimates each employee who smokes costs the organization $3,391 per year: $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenses.
  • Individual smokers average 30% higher healthcare costs than nonsmokers.

The tobacco industry is spending approximately $13 billion nationwide to market their products. In Montana, marketing expenditures are estimated at $33 million per year (FTC). Nearly 85% of these marketing budgets is spent on give-aways and coupons, which sidestep regulations restricting advertising to young people.

Nicotine is dangerous and addictive. In response to successful smoke-free laws, such as the Montana Clean Indoor Air Ordinance (enacted in October 2009) the tobacco industry has introduced new smokeless products, such as snus, nicotine lozenges, gels, strips and sticks. These products encourage ongoing addiction and are not considered safe alternatives to cigarettes (FDA).

Tobacco-free campus policies are now the national standard, endorsed by top national health agencies, including the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American College Health Association. As of January 2011, over 260 U.S. campuses had implemented tobacco-free policies. Montana Tech was the first tobacco-free campus in Montana (July 2010) and the University of Montana has also passed a comprehensive tobacco-free policy to go into effect in September 2011. Other Montana campuses that have since approved tobacco-free campus policies include UM-Western, UM-Helena, and Fort Peck Community College.

In March 2011, the students of MSU voted to support a tobacco-free MSU (61% were in favor of the policy). This demonstrates increasing support for a healthy, cleaner campus environment for everyone: students, faculty, staff, visitors and children. A tobacco-free campus policy will:

  • Protect people from unwanted and involuntary exposure to passive smoke.
  • Create a cleaner learning and working environment.
  • Promote cessation and create a supporting environment for those trying to quit tobacco.

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How Do I Quit?

Health Promotion offers free quit kits for both smoking and spit tobacco. The Montana Quitline is a free state program designed to help tobacco users fight their addiction. People who use Montana’s tobacco Quitline are 7 to 10 times more likely to quit than those trying to quit on their own. This service is free and offers individual assistance and access to discounted cessation medication and free nicotine replacement products.

Montana Quit Line Logo

Information and cessation for spit tobacco:

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