Steps for Enacting a Smokefree College Campus Policy
- Determine the decision-making channels on campus. Who has the power to pass a smokefree campus policy? Who is the chief administrator and which other administrators are involved in the decision-making process?
- Provide these administrators with information about secondhand smoke and smokefree policies on other campuses.
- Request a meeting with the appropriate administrators about enacting a smokefree policy.
- Decide on policy goals and dealbreakers. Develop a written policy to present to the decision makers. See the Model Policy for a Smokefree University on our website. Be sure to choose a common-sense start date: the beginning of the year or term.
- Survey students, faculty, and staff to ascertain the level of support, both from smokers and nonsmokers. Identify any areas of particular concern. Understanding where people stand will help with implementation of the policy as well.
- Generate campus support and encourage strong supporters to join your campaign. Widespread support from students, faculty, and staff will help convince administrators that the policy is wanted and needed.
- Develop a relationship with reporters and editors of the campus newspaper. Articles about secondhand smoke and smokefree policies can increase awareness on campus, leading to stronger support for a new policy.
- If possible, get written endorsements from the student government and other student, faculty, and employee organizations.
- Get supporters to send emails and letters of support to the appropriate administrators. Personal stories with anecdotal accounts of problems with the current smoking policy are best.
- Use social networking to get the word out. Use all the online tools in your arsenal to recruit supporters and to let them know when to take action (send emails, letters to the editor, attend meetings or rallies, etc.).
- Educate the entire campus early on about the dangers of secondhand smoke, benefits of smokefree air, tobacco use, litter problems, cessation options.
- Approach other student groups or associations who may be supportive of a smokefree campus. Make presentations and see who jumps on board. For example, you can approach:
- Students in health education or health policy classes
- LGBTQ groups
- Sororities and Fraternities
- Student athletes or teams
- Be prepared. Find out how the decision making process works. Will there be a public vote? A hearing? Can students and others provide written or verbal testimony? If so, you will want to pack the room and prepare your talking points well.
- Count your votes. Assess how close you are to passing a 100% smokefree campus policy, and if you don’t have widespread support, continue educating your decision makers and building your grassroots power base until you are ready to ask for a vote!
Once Your Smokefree Campus Policy Passes:
- Congratulations! Now it is time to prepare your campus for implementation and ensure people follow the new policy.
- Work with the school officials to help notify everyone of the policy in advance. Get information about the policy into your student newspapers, and encourage the administration to include information about the policy in preparation materials sent to students and faculty at the start of the term.
- Post signs. This is a major component of compliance. Frame the message in a positive way. People are more likely to adhere to the policy when they understand why it’s in place and what is required of them to comply.
- Establish a complaint procedure and enforce the policy in a non-discriminatory way.
- Compliance with smokefree policies is generally not a problem if you are well prepared but there may be a short period of adjustment as people become aware of the new policy and how to comply. Enjoy the smokefree air!
May be reprinted with appropriate credit to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.
Copyright 2009 American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. All rights reserved.