History and Policy

In U-M’s ongoing effort to create an environment that is healthy for all members of the community, the University of Michigan became a smoke-free campus July 1, 2011. This extended the smoke-free environment from university buildings to the campus grounds on all three U-M campuses. This is another step along a path set in 1987 when the university adopted a ban on smoking in buildings (except some residence halls) and all university vehicles, with establishment of (SPG 601.4).

Michigan Medicine has been smoke-free since 1998, and the Residence Halls Association, a student representative organization, eliminated smoking from all residence halls in 2003.

In 2016, the Michigan Medicine adopted a tobacco-free policy by including a prohibition on all tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Prior to the 2011 move to a smoke-free campus, five subcommittees carefully considered the implications for student life, human resources, grounds and facilities, visitors to the university and the surrounding community. Committee work included representatives from all campuses, students, the local community and smoking cessation experts. Within these work groups were smokers, former smokers and never-smokers. More than 1,500 students provided feedback and participated in focus groups and surveys about the initiative.  A detailed report of the implementation process can be downloaded here: UM Smoke-Free Implementation Report

The decision to become a smoke-free university aligned with the goals of MHealthy to improve the health of the campus community. U-M has been working university-wide to promote a culture of health, and this fits into that philosophy. In addition to improving the environment for all at U-M, the hope was that the policy would translate into more members of the community quitting smoking and more of the younger members not starting to smoke.

There also are organizational improvements that can accompany a change like this – reduced absenteeism, greater productivity on the job, and reduced medical and disability costs to name a few.

Health Information

Smoking has long been known to be a primary cause of lung cancer, and the list of other diseases caused by smoking includes certain aortic aneurysms, myeloid leukemia, cataracts, cervical cancer, kidney and pancreatic cancer, pneumonia, periodontitis and stomach cancer.

The Surgeon General’s 2014 report, The Health Consequences of Smoking-50 Years of Progress, warned that no level of smoke is safe. Other conclusions included benefits of smoking cessation to both the smoker and his/her family due to secondhand smoke:

  • Pooled evidence indicates a 20-30 percent increase in the risk of lung cancer from secondhand smoke exposure associated with living with a smoker.
  • Evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and increased risks of coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality among both men and women.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers.
  • Workplace restrictions are highly effective in reducing secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits, reducing risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general.

Sharing What We’ve Learned

The University of Michigan is considered a leader among colleges and universities in adoption of this policy. Since it went smoke-free in 2011 hundreds of others across the country have established similar policies, and many have looked to us for help with how to get started.

We often get requests to share our plan and welcome other universities to use any of the materials found on this site. For other resources, including our communication plan, charge to committees and other materials and documents, please write us at smokefreeuniversity@umich.edu.

The same email address can be used to ask questions or report concerns with the policy.

The President’s office has appointed an advisory committee, which meets twice a year to address policy issues and compliance.