The University of Texas at Austin Kicks the Habit

April 11, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas — It's official. The University of Texas at Austin is tobacco-free.

Yesterday the university received word that the University of Texas System approved the tobacco-free campus policy making it effective April 9, 2012. The tobacco-free policy prohibits use of any tobacco products in university buildings and on university grounds within the state of Texas, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, attached parking structures and university owned buildings. The full text of the policy including the definition for tobacco products and approved exceptions is available on the University Policies website.

The decision to accelerate a change in the institution’s no smoking policy came after the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) announced in February that it would be tying future research funds to tobacco-free policies. The university receives about $30 million in research grants from CPRIT and may apply for as much as $80 million more in the future.

“The university was already headed down a tobacco-free path,” says Adrienne Howarth-Moore, director of Human Resource Services. “CPRIT was an impetus to accomplish this quickly.”

During the first year of implementing the policy, temporary tobacco use locations have been established on the main campus and at the Pickle Research Campus. These temporary locations will only be available through Feb. 28, 2013, and comply with CPRIT requirements.

Vice President of University Operations Pat Clubb explains that the university will rely on education to enforce the new rules.

“This is an institution of higher education, so it’s logical that we emphasize education, awareness and a spirit of cooperation in enforcing the policy,” said Clubb. “Much can be accomplished with signage and politely reminding members of our community and guests that we are a tobacco-free campus.”

The university will also provide support to individuals who decide to quit using tobacco. The Counseling and Mental Health Center in University Health Services and the HealthPoint program in Human Resource Services offer cessation classes at no or low cost, and the UT Select insurance plans now cover tobacco cessation counseling using network providers.

“The U.S. has made tremendous progress reducing smoking in recent decades, but tobacco use remains the number one cause of avoidable death and serious disease. The goal of the new policy is to help create a healthy, sustainable environment for our students, staff and faculty, and we’re proud to join other universities across the state and nation who have made their campuses tobacco-free,” said Dr. William Sage, vice provost for health affairs for the University of Texas System. “You might say — just this one time — that what STOPS here changes the world.”

For more information, contact: Rhonda Weldon, Univ Op-Communications, 512-350-8913.

42 Comments to "The University of Texas at Austin Kicks the Habit"

1.  Kate Bell said on April 11, 2012

I am so proud to be a part of a community that is fighting against cancer!!

2.  roxanne bradford said on April 11, 2012

Yay!! So proud to be an alumni of SUCH an incredible institution. THIS is the approach our country needs to take in improving our nation's health!! Hook 'em!

3.  Larry Liberty said on April 12, 2012

It sure didn’t take long for The University to cave into the bullying from CPRIT. I wonder what will happen when PETA comes a knocking and demands that Bevo must go!

4.  Elyes said on April 12, 2012

Some frame this as "...UT basically cowing to a policy that doesn’t directly impact cancer research. It would be refreshing if governments and institutions would stand on principle and refuse to be coerced and blackmailed." I wonder what past and future generations of Texans would say. This policy is triggering a discriminatory resultant policy . Remember for internal UT constituent not smoking in designated area is ground for misconduct hence for dismissal and termination.

5.  Blade Waters said on April 12, 2012

I for one am infuriated. As a smoker, I understand the effects of both first and second hand smoke, and understand the reasoning behind this move, but to make this change NOW? Why not wait till we're between terms? Why wait until finals are approaching to add additional stress in the lives of hundreds of smokers who suddenly cannot smoke on campus, get our fix, and move on with our days? A cig between classes has sustained me and kept me going, and I for one think that this change was executed in a rather stupid fashion.

6.  Thomas Close said on April 12, 2012

As a non-smoker and alumnus of UT Austin, I applaud this decision and wish it happened sooner. It is interesting they made the decision due to the desire for funding. However, it is ultimately beneficial for everyone. Too bad it didn't happen while I was a student. That was always a huge annoyance to walk out of a building (or anywhere around the Forty Acres) and directly into an inconsiderate person's smoke.

7.  jim said on April 13, 2012

The enforcement of the new policy seems pretty weak. If you don't have any real enforcement, it will be a joke. No one will obey. Sounds like UT is just being PC just to get more funding.

8.  Paul said on April 13, 2012

This policy is 50 years late.

9.  lovestarlovely said on April 13, 2012

I want to say that I LOVE this new policy. What's the point of "no smoking" inside buildings when I walk to class and the person 2 feet in front of me is blowing smoke in my direction? Be a smoker if you want, but don't make others around you suffer from your disgusting habit. As a campus, we all need to band together and enforce this policy. If you see someone smoking, tell them to put it away. Just yesterday, I saw 3 men coming out of the SAC smoking away. I kindly reminded them UT is now a smoke-free campus and one of them flicked his cigarette over my shoulder. So that's their reaction? To cause me physical harm and burn my skin? It appears some of the smokers are now on a mission to ignore this ban completely and are displaying their hate for this ban by smoking MORE. In their email, the university asked the community to help enforce this ban: "As an institution of higher education, we intend to enforce this policy through education, awareness, and a spirit of cooperation...by politely reminding members of the university community and guests that we are a tobacco-free campus." And that's exactly what I was doing. If people do not want to comply, then UT will need to start issuing tickets.

10.  Canberk said on April 14, 2012

Congrats!! It will be great to study in a tobacco-free campus but it's not enough. Students still need to walk through the smoking cloud of Guadalupe street so this is a perfect start but more action needed!

11.  Concerned said on April 14, 2012

Fascist policy. Bow down to your funders UT. Glad I'm graduating this semester.

12.  Bill said on April 16, 2012

Ok. Let's see what would happen if several Law School Professors who smoke decide to light up outside the Law School. Of course we know that absolutely nothing will happen: they have tenure, to start with, and UT's certainly not going to sue them and go to court. It's a good policy, in my opinion, but unenforceable.

13.  Bill said on April 16, 2012

Gee, I missed the funniest part of all: The Designated Tobacco Use Areas. How much time will be given Fac/Staff to hike to the nearest TUA, light up, smoke, and hike back to their unit? Staff have only 15 min breaks, a pretty short time for that; of course, Fac can loiter about much longer if they choose and casually stroll to the nearest TUA and chat with their colleagues. Maybe they should talk along a piece of wood and a knife, too! These TUAs could become great "spit and whittle corners."
And, the policy should also state, "Smokers should bring umbrellas in case of inclement weather."

14.  Jonah said on April 17, 2012

What about the idling buses next to the stadium? The exhaust is horrible. And all of the dust on campus from endless construction. Even the leaf blowers create dust-storms that we have to walk in.

15.  nomi said on April 18, 2012

Majority of the Engineering/Science grad students smoke cigarettes. Dependency on cigarettes, quality of graduate research, and further research grants ($$$) are all variables of the same equation. Go figure.
Remember that graduate students research generate more money than a small amount of $30 million from CPRIT.

16.  Farhan said on April 18, 2012

“This is an institution of higher education, so it’s logical that we emphasize education, awareness and a spirit of cooperation in enforcing the policy"

An institution of higher education should emphasize freedom of choice, first of all. Secondly, if it truly insists on teaching its students awareness then it should be teaching them that virtually everything is a carcinogen. Yet again, UT pitches their sell-outs as progress.

PS. In my two years, to date, I have not had a problem with second-hand smoke seeing as though the benches outside the PCL are not exactly in my route to class. How silly...

17.  Bert Reece said on April 19, 2012

I commend the University on its efforts to make the campus a safer place for everyone. I hate it when I am walking in a crowd and I have to smell cigarette smoke coming from someone ahead of me. You move to get away from the smell and it is still there. I have had some lung issues this past year, so I truly appreciate the UT system standing up for people like me. For so long I have felt as if smokers had more rights than non-smokers. I pray that they find a way to enforce this rule.

18.  joe c said on April 19, 2012

Im a non smoker alumni that believes this is a bit of a power stretch. I always thought that UT got the best and brightest students and faculty who can make their own decisions about what's good or bad for their body, but I guess I was wrong. Hey maybe phillip morris will donate $50 million and smoking will be mandatory for all.

19.  kerry hogue said on April 19, 2012

seems a lot of the commentors have missed the point. This is the right thing to do. Way to go UT.

20.  Jennifer said on April 19, 2012

Fantastic job, UT! Folks will always complain, but we all know that in the end when this policy helps them quit they will be grateful. Cigarettes are a Class A carcinogen. Would students and staff be ok if we all walked around campus spilling radiation onto our friends and colleagues? Or benzene? The choice is clear, and the policy is fair- one year folks. One year is plenty of notice. And kudos to CPRIT for the strong nudge. This should certainly be the policy at all government institutions- the government should not be supporting exposure to any Class A carcinogens anywhere, ever. And hopefully other agencies, worksites, schools, etc will follow.

21.  Mary A. said on April 19, 2012

Yes this is a good step. What is not mentioned in this article is that the University fought this initiative tooth and nail--because the faculty didn't want to have to walk off campus to smoke. The only reason it was implemented was for the money. It would have happened sooner--had the threat to pull the money been there sooner. So UT this is great--but not quite as altruistic as you make it sound.

22.  Husejin Dervic said on April 19, 2012

Once again, UT makes a progressive move in an otherwise non-progressive state (politically speaking). Kudos to my Alma Mater!

23.  Melody said on April 19, 2012

It's hard having a lot of sympathy for smokers. Despite growing opposition to secondhand smoke and the desire to not smell like cigarettes, I don't know how many smokers have held their cigs within inches of me, even when outside, watching the smoke swirl into my face. Smokers cluster at the doorways, so non-smokers can't avoid it, when leaving buildings. I would be fine with UT being a smoking campus, if most smokers had a little bit more appreciation for those that aren't.

24.  Sam Nettles said on April 19, 2012

Millions of smokers around the world, like me, have been heavy smokers for 60 years or more. The junk science behind this money-power anti-smoking movement should never fool those in higher education. I am shamed by U.T. ignorance in the matter. (1962 Graduate)

25.  Martha Collins ('86) said on April 19, 2012

Thank you, UT Austin!! As an ex-smoker who has seen the light, I'm grateful. I wish more places/institutions would do the same. Smokers, if your smoking only affected you, no problem, but we can't escape your smoke.

26.  Carmen said on April 19, 2012

Good move, UT! Too bad our chain-smoking president can't set a better example.

27.  Jon Olson said on April 19, 2012

I think smoking is terrible for your health, and would encourage anyone who does smoke to quit, but isn't this a conflict of interest for the university to impose certain social behaviors on the campus in order to get research money? I am in the energy business, and I just wonder what people would think if Boone Pickens said he would give $10 million in research dollars as long as we converted all university vehicles to natural gas. We know it pollutes less and is better for the environment. How far would the university be willing to go to get money? Cancer research is a good cause, but research donors shouldn't be making the entire university jump through hoops so that some fraction of the faculty can benefit.

28.  Gonzalo Garcia-Ribeyro said on April 19, 2012

I quit smoking a few years ago but I still think this is wrong. I smoked while I attended UT and I know most smokers will smoke at designated areas if available and anywhere if designated areas are not available. At least let them have rooftops or something. I agree with other posts that this in unenforceable for students as well as for faculty and staff.

29.  Cary said on April 19, 2012

I am very happy to see UT do this! Also, I am so glad people who smoke understnd 2nd hand smoke because it kills us, the people who have decided not to smoke. We choose health instead but smokers still think they have the right to take away years of our life. Think of your selfishness smokers and be glad that this decision by UT will be a way to help you stop your dirty habit!

30.  Anonymous said on April 19, 2012

Even though I am a smoker, I support the movement to end smoking on campus; however, I do not support UT's declaration that this is out of the best interest for the health of the campus community. It should promoted as what it is - a poorly planned initiative that will preserve cancer research funding. I believe that UT does have the best interest of the campus at heart, but this was not implemented in such an immediate fashion because of that interest. Additionally, the on-campus smoking locations are completely ridiculous. Why is there nothing in the center of campus? They should have researched places that only smokers populate. For example, the balcony on the 4th floor of GSB is practically only used by smokers. Also, the NW corner of the FAC is a place with little foot traffic where people commonly smoke. UT should focus on consultation, therapy, and education as a means of helping the campus community quit--NOT inconveniencing them into it.

31.  Michael J. McFadden said on April 19, 2012

Melody wrote, "I don't know how many smokers have held their cigs within inches of me, even when outside, watching the smoke swirl into my face. "

I don't know either Melody. Why don't you tell us, and also tell us the circumstances. Did they come up to you to hold their cigarettes within inches from you to watch the smoke swirl into your face Did they follow you with outstretched cigarettes when you moved? You note, "even when outside" which indicates this happens to you with some frequency inside as well. Where on campus do they do this to you inside, and how often?

I would suggest that you read my "Lies Behind The Smoking Bans" and it might help you understand how your mind has been played with through propaganda in this area. Just Google "V.Gen5H" and click on "The Health Arguments" link at the top. Feel free to offer any specific, substantive criticisms: I promise I won't mind, and I'll try to stop back to respond. I think UT students deserve to see more than one side on this issue.

- MJM

32.  Bob Taylor said on April 19, 2012

Guess we know how much it takes to buy the U....$30M You would think a university this large would hold out for much, much more than that.

33.  Denzil Smith said on April 20, 2012

I fully understand not having smokers in a public building or within so many feet of a building, but this has gone too far. It is another rule that will only be enforced when needed. In other words this is the type of rule that law enforcement will use to profile people because of their color, dress or appearance. We'll be watching!

34.  Robert Johnson said on April 23, 2012

This policy is more disgusting than a throat cancer victim using her trachea to inhale. An education is supposed to enlighten a free people, that tolerance of others is in their best interest, and that they are responsible for their own actions. To turn a University into behavior cop for money is worse than cancer. Is this why she needs cute little slogans to inspire obedience, because she doesn't stand for anything? "Support the University in all endeavors". Is she yelling at us that she doesn't deserve it?

35.  Kyle Marshall said on April 24, 2012

Now that we are stopping carcinogens on campus. Let's also stop any vehicles from running through campus. Hey, exhaust smoke is also a carcinogen. Also, when the wind blows in the direction of UT, lets stop any smokers from smoking in that direction even outside of the campus ( we obviously don't want second hand smoke).
But seriously though, it would be fun to see UT attempting to ask the stores nearby to stop selling tobacco products and the smoking cafes and restaurants around campus to prohibit smoking completely. And all that for a $30 million grant. Hilarious.

36.  JJ said on April 26, 2012

I don't smoke and I am more than happy to have a smoking ban on campus. However, this has only created MORE smokers trying to hide around my building to do their smoking. Now when I go out the back door of my building there is a person there smoking and I have to hold my breath until I get past. So who is going to enforce no smoking??

37.  J.R. said on May 1, 2012

This policy is ridiculous as well as the $30 million that takes the University to sell out, as well as the stupid comments from all the people who are complaining about second hand smoke and relieved that it won't affect them anymore. Bye bye education, tolerance, and free will, hello fascism! This university is great, but the institution is always selling out- one way or another (longhorn merch story). It is quite offensive to read something this hipocritical and false coming from our university. There was never a problem with second hand smoking at any UT Austin location and there is PLENTY of space for people to smoke freely without being close to non-smokers. Why not skip the whole show and just say out the truth - you did it for the money. These fascists can go ahead and try. We all know people will still continue to smoke nontheless since this is simply ridiculous.

38.  TR said on May 1, 2012

This ban isn't making anyone stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco. Students will still use tobacco and that is fact. Putting this ban in place has just forced the issue underground, like most other controversial issues in today's world.

39.  bryan said on May 1, 2012

Because 6% of UT students identify as smokers, this policy should be a benefit for the other 94%. However, for UT to say this is in the best interest of the students is ridiculous. They're clearly doing this for the chump change of $30 million. I'm a non smoker and have not noticed any difference in the number of smokers so far. This policy is clearly not going to be enforced, which makes UT seem like an even bigger money-hungry business. UT's interests, in this situation and others, lie in their own profits and not the health benefits one less second of secondhand smoke per day will give to people.

40.  Katie said on May 2, 2012

This was so hilarious to read. Thanks for the laughs you idiotic people.

41.  nick said on May 2, 2012

When I was a smoker I always wished there weren't so many smokers around me all the time. This policy will no doubt help me and others stay quit.

42.  Geetha Rajagopal said on May 3, 2012

I came across a bus driver yesterday who had his back to the road and leaning on the window sill of the Soccer stadium. Guess what he was doing- SMOKING!!!