Tobacco Policy & Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

UNCW has adopted its first tobacco policy that is dedicated to promoting health and eliminating community members' exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

Specifically, the policy has several key components:

  • No tobacco product use is allowed inside any UNCW building or state vehicle.
  • Smoking and tobacco product use are banned from within 25 feet of any building entrance.
  • Tobacco is banned from being sold on campus.
  • Tobacco may not be distributed for free on campus.
  • Registered student organizations are prohibited from accepting event sponsorship from tobacco brand companies and from promoting tobacco products.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Here are some frequently asked questions:

  • How will I know that I'm at 25 feet?

The 25 foot barrier from buildings will be indicated in numerous ways. Tobacco waste receptacles, a.k.a. butt buckets, will be moved to the appropriate distances, signage will be provided when possible, and other means, like temporary lawn flags, will be utilized to gently guide people to the appropriate distances.

  • What if 25 feet from a building is unsafe?

Each building perimeter has been measured. If the 25 foot distance was deemed unsafe, another appropriate distance has been chosen.

  • What is the ultimate goal for this initiative?

The goal of this initiative is to provide the safest environment possible for the UNCW community. A 25 foot perimeter is the current minimum recommendation of the American College Health Association. However, our surveys do show strongly support for even more restrictive policies, which may be considered in the future.

In addition to improving health, recent fires on and off-campus remind us that lit tobacco butts are a very real safety risk, especially in this extended drought state.

Cigarette butts present a threat to wildlife. Cigarette filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales and other marine creatures who mistake them for food. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic and can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic.

  • What about smokers? What help is available to quit?

There are numerous resources for smokers in the UNCW community to use to quit using tobacco, if they choose. Students may utilize smoking cessation resources available through CROSSROADS and consult with providers at the Abrons Student Health Center to increase their likelihood of success.

Staff and faculty have access to Health Coaches and low-cost nicotine replacement therapy, including free nicotine patches, through the State Health Plan.

All UNCW community members can use the Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW and the UNCW cessation website,

  • Isn't this policy anti-smoker? Doesn't this policy discriminate against them?

The purpose of this policy is not to discriminate against smokers or force them to quit. The Surgeon General has declared environmental tobacco smoke as a Class A carcinogen; thus, reducing exposure is beneficial for all community members. For years, students, staff, and faculty have complained that walking through smoke to enter building has worsened or triggered their asthma or other respiratory illnesses. This policy still allows smoking on campus but will move smoke away from entrances.

  • What is the evidence that secondhand hand in doorways is harmful?

In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report declaring secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. In that report:

  • The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that breathing even a little secondhand smoke poses a risk to your health. Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful to your health.
  • Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer. Concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are potentially higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers.
  • Secondhand smoke causes heart disease.

Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, interfering with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of heart attack.

Secondhand smoke causes acute respiratory effects. Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways. Even brief exposure can trigger respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness. Brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma.

Persons who already have asthma or other respiratory conditions are at especially high risk for being affected by secondhand smoke, and should take special precautions to avoid secondhand smoke exposure.

  • Will we be installing smoking huts?

At this point, it is not financially feasible or aesthetically desirable to install smoking huts. By moving smoking 25 feet from building entrances, the majority of campus is allowable space for smoking.

  • How many people actually support this policy?

A survey in a required basic studies class found that 85% of students believed that non-smokers should not have to walk through smoke to get into buildings, including 64% of smokers. 89% of students, faculty, and staff that completed a voluntary on-line survey also agreed with this statement. A survey of 165 students at a campus event found that 86% would support the 25-foor perimeter policy, including 72% of smokers.

  • Will this make Chancellor's Walk smoke-free?

Certain sections of Chancellor's Walk will become smoke-free due to its placement within 25 feet of a building (e.g. by S & B), but the majority of Chancellor's Walk will not fall within our new smoking restrictions.

  • How will this policy be enforced? What are the penalties?

This policy will be enforced through publicity and positive social pressure. Campus community members are encouraged to confront people violating the policy by pointing out where smoking is allowed. In the future, repeat violations may be addressed. However, our colleagues' experiences show that intention positive publicity and social pressure will result in a high level of compliance. Repeated and flagrant violations could be addressed by the Office of the Dean of Students or Human Resources, if deemed necessary.

  • What other schools have done this?

In North Carolina, East Carolina University enacted a 25-foot smoking ban in August, 2007. UNC Chapel Hill enacted a 100 foot smoking policy as of January, 2008. Appalachian State University enacted a 50 foot smoking ban in January 2008.

  • What other Wilmington employers have done this?

The campuses of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center are completely tobacco-free. New Hanover County bans smoking and e-cigarette use in its buildings and within 50 feet of building entrances.

  • Who has to abide by this policy?

All UNCW students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus are required to abide by this policy.