Frequently Asked Questions for Belmont Students, Faculty and Staff
Q: Why did Belmont University decide to become a tobacco-free campus?
A: Belmont is dedicated to the health and well-being of all of our students, faculty and staff. The transition to an entirely tobacco-free campus attempts to provide the healthiest environment possible for the aforementioned groups. Knowing the detrimental effects of tobacco, we can no longer support its use on our campus.
Q: What does a “tobacco-free” campus mean? What areas of campus does this entail?
A: The use of tobacco is prohibited within the main university campus. This includes all buildings (including residence halls), parking structures, campus walkways, university-owned vehicles and privately-owned vehicles parked on university property. This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, contractors, vendors and other visitors to all university property. Prohibited tobacco products include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes, hookahs and all smokeless tobacco.
Q: Does this policy cover vehicles parked on Belmont property?
A: Yes. Smoking in any vehicle parked on university property is a violation of the tobacco-free campus policy.
Q: Is smoking allowed on property surrounding Belmont’s campus?
A: The University can’t enforce tobacco free policies on a public right of way- this includes sidewalks along the perimeter of the campus. But, the university will enforce sanctions should smoking occur on private property or neighborhood yards located near Belmont’s campus. Our Community Code of Conduct states that students must respect the rights and properties of all individuals and the community itself. In addition, all tobacco products and cigarette butts are included in Tennessee litter laws enforced by Metro officers and punishable by fines. Please be a good neighbor and dispose of all trash safely and properly.
Q: How is the tobacco-free policy enforced?
A: All faculty, staff, and students have collective responsibility to promote the safety and health of the campus community and, therefore, share in the responsibility of enforcement. The Offices of Campus Security and Residence Life are authorized to issue citations for violations of the policy. See the “Policy and Sanctions” link for additional information on enforcement and penalties.
Q: Does the tobacco-free campus policy present an excessive hardship on students and employees of the university who smoke?
A: This initiative is intended to also benefit our smokers. Over 50 percent of our smokers self-report that they want to quit and are unsuccessful each year (nicotine is more addictive than heroin). The research shows that making it less convenient to smoke leads to a reduction in consumption rates, working toward quitting completely. When smokers are trying to quit, making it easier for them to light up and/or be exposed to smoke is truly a disservice.
Q: I want to stop smoking. Are there resources to help me?
A: Belmont’s Health Services will offer individual consultations to create a four-month personalized smoking cessation program for those looking to quit smoking. Other resources to help you quit can be found on our resources page.
Q: Why did Belmont believe it to be necessary to change from a restricted and designated smoking area policy to a tobacco-free campus?
A: While the designated areas limit exposure to smoke, they do not protect those who work or live by the area or must pass the area on a frequent basis. Exposure to smoke in and near the designated areas was bothersome to many students and employees, especially those with allergies, asthma and heart disease. There is a growing movement nationwide to prohibit smoking in outdoor areas.
Q: Will the lack of designated smoking areas cause some people not to come to campus (i.e. for basketball games), simply to avoid the inconvenience?
A: Providing a place to smoke does not support the campus’s goal to create a healthier environment. The majority of smokers self report a strong desire to quit smoking, but are unsuccessful in their efforts each year. Belmont is working to eliminate the triggers – like designated tobacco use areas – that make tobacco cessation difficult.
Q: Smoking tobacco is legal. Why is the university preventing people from doing something that is not even against the law?
A: Although you have the legal right to purchase tobacco products, Belmont University has the legal and ethical right and responsibility to make and implement decisions that positively affect the health and well being of all students, faculty and staff. It is true that smoking is still a legal product/activity; however, the courts have ruled that the rights of smokers do not supersede the rights of non-smokers to avoid breathing second-hand smoke. Medical research has shown (and the U.S. Surgeon General has affirmed) that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, a class A carcinogen.
Q: Have other colleges transitioned to tobacco-free campuses?
A: Yes, according to a May 2011 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation estimates that more than 500 campuses have adopted no-smoking policies. We believe this number will continue to increase in the coming years, as one state has already banned smoking on the campuses of all institutions of higher education statewide and another has banned smoking on the campuses of all public colleges and universities statewide.
Q: Don’t people use e-cigarettes to quit smoking?
A: The marketers of e-cigarettes claim e-cigarettes are harmless and help people stop smoking. However, there is no evidence that substantiates these claims. E-cigarettes often contain synthetic liquid nicotine along with other chemicals. In fact, sales to young teens have skyrocketed, the implication being an increase in new smokers.
Q: Isn’t it just water vapor and harmless—it’s really not tobacco?
A: According to the American Lung Association, a study has estimated that there are 250 different e-cigarette brands for sale in the U.S. today and there is likely to be wide variation in the chemicals that each contain, but in initial lab tests conducted by the FDA in 2009, detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals were found, including an ingredient used in anti-freeze (that is poisonous to humans and animals,) in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges. This chemical is also found in the secondhand vapor. The cartridges can contain nicotine, chocolate, flavors like bubblegum and cola. In states where legal, e-cigarettes are being used as a vehicle for marijuana.