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Topic 3 Survey Results: Should CSUN Become Smoke Free?

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Topic 3 Survey Results: Should CSUN Become Smoke Free?

In the fall 2013 semester, the CSUN community was invited to take part in an online survey and provide input on the following issue:

Should CSUN become smoke-free? If you think yes, how restrictive should CSUN’s policy be? Becoming smoke-free would limit or eliminate the use of smoke-producing tobacco. Becoming tobacco-free would limit or eliminate the use of any tobacco product. What about space? If smoking is limited to designated areas, how limited should those areas be and where should they be located? There are also questions of how best to educate and inform the campus community of a policy, and how best to enforce it.

As expected, this question solicited a large number of responses from students, staff, and faculty, ranging across a broad spectrum of opinion, and much thoughtful input. A report summarizing the survey results is below.

The results of this survey will be a valuable resource for the Task Force on Becoming a Smoke-Free Campus that has been tasked with considering this important question, the decision on which will affect everyone at CSUN. Thank you to all who participated!

Question:  Are you a smoker, e-cigarette or tobacco consumer?

Yes: 10.2%. (84 respondents)
No: 89.8% (740)
824 total respondents answered the question
4 respondents skipped the question

Question:  Should CSUN become a smoke-free campus?

Yes: 75.4% (621)
No: 20.6% (170)
Not Sure: 4.0% (33)
824 total respondents answered the question
4 respondents skipped the question

Question:  If no, why not?

  • A right; freedom
  • Stress relief
  • Does not interfere with learning
  • Could restrict access to higher education
  • Difficult to implement/enforce
  • Will be ignored
  • Cost of enforcement – unnecessary burden
  • Unfair, discriminatory, an affront
  • Alienates/ostracizes a large number of people
  • Too much regulation, overly intrusive
  • Social engineering
  • Smoking is not illegal
  • Prohibition does not lead to cessation
  • Encourages deceit; smokers will find secluded places and continue to smoke.
  • Excessive control; draconian
  • Limiting personal freedoms for the sake of social trends
  • Student smokers are paying money to be at CSUN
  • Would makes college life harder than it should be
  • If students can serve/die for country, vote, get married, take out student loans, should be allowed to smoke
  • There are already have too many rules

Question:  If yes, what should be the extent of the smoke-free policy?

Smoking should be completely prohibited on the entire campus, including parking structures and outdoor areas: 56% (411)
Smoking should be limited to designated outdoor areas: 43.7% (319)
730 total respondents answered the question
98 respondents skipped the question

Question:  If a smoke-free policy is implemented, what types of products should be restricted?

All types of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes.  e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco should also be prohibited: 56.9% (435)
E-cigarettes and chewing tobacco should be allowed: 32.7% (250)
Only chewing tobacco should be allowed: 10.3% (79)
764 total respondents answered the question
64 respondents skipped the question

Question: If a smoke-free policy is implemented, how should CSUN continuously communicate its smoking policy?

Signs across the campus: 94.1% (737)
Sundial: 56.4% (442)
Annual email to students, faculty, staff 71.5% (560)
CSUN Website: 78.7% (616)
Other (please specify): 20.4% (160)
783 total respondents answered the question
45 respondents skipped the question
Note that respondents were allowed to select multiple options, so does not total to 100%.

Other Suggestions

  • Website
  • Portal
  • Moodle
  • Class syllabi
  • Posters throughout campus
  • Email blasts
  • Text messages
  • Catalog
  • Class schedule
  • Student organizations
  • Mandatory meetings
  • Radio, television, billboards
  • Orientation – student, faculty, staff
  • Separate communications for foreign students (often from cultures where smoking is a non-issue)
  • Clear signage and barriers/markers for designated areas
  • Distribute flyers about smoking and second-hand smoke
  • Frequent reminders

Question: If a smoke-free policy is implemented, how can CSUN ensure the policy is followed?

Verbal warnings, educational with an emphasis on cessation: 66.4% (516)
Tickets by Campus Police: 75.3% (585)
Other Suggestions (please specify): 19.3% (150)
777 total respondents answered the question
51 respondents skipped the question
Note that respondents were allowed to select multiple options, so does not total to 100%.

Other Suggestions

  • Start by enforcing current rules – regardless of what the future path is
  • Current rules are not enforced; smokers don’t respect rules
  • Patrols – volunteers, paid security, or police
  • Peer pressure and counseling
  • Empower or encourage staff/faculty to remind smokers of policy
  • Station ‘reminders’ near parking structures and buildings
  • Only CSUN police can deter – ‘strong authority figure’
  • Dedicated phone line to report offenders
  • System to track verbal warnings
  • Also enforce anti-littering policy; people who throw toxic trash on campus should pay to clean it
  • Student ‘movement’ to inform others of policy
  • Points system
  • Emphasis on education
  • Free mindfulness mediation classes
  • No tickets

Suggestions on consequences for not following policy:


  • Smoking secession programs at Health Center
  • No cost aids
  • Referrals --free access to nicotine replacement therapies, support groups for those trying to quit
  • Cancer awareness activities


  • Progressive – warnings leading to fines for repeat offenders
  • Three-strike rule
  • Tickets/fines the only way to enforce
  • Put a block on registration if ticket is not paid
  • Handle as violation of student conduct code; academic holds
  • Consequences should differ by type of offender – tenured faculty, non-tenured faculty, staff, students
  • Revoke parking pass
  • Dismissal

     Community service

  • Litter clean-up

Question: Please give us additional suggestions, comments or unintended implications of potentially implementing a smoke-free policy at CSUN. (A synopsis of comments is provided below.)

On the Role of the University

  • Teach healthy lifestyles (non-smoking) versus
  • Provide atmosphere of openness, inclusion (smoking)
  • Should be a place of diversity and tolerance
  • To help CSUN shine, implement policies that help all of us help ourselves


  • Some referred to it as a personal choice
  • Some referred to it as an addiction
  • Some referred to it as a stress reliever
  • Some referred to it as a personal freedom/right
  • Some referred to it as an infringement on their rights to breathe clean air, maintain health

Primary reasons for wanting a smoke-free environment

     Health Risks Associated with Smoking

  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to smoke
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Coughing
  • Heart conditions
  • Pregnancies
  • People fighting cancer
  • Cancer survivors
  • Second-hand smoke is a stealth killer
  • Other people’s choices put my health at risk


  • Right to ‘breathe clean air’
  • No one has the right to pollute the campus
  • Litter – cigarette butts, chew
  • Squirrels get sick eating butts
  • Cost to clean
  • Smell

     Associated costs

  • Environmental clean up
  • Health care

Degree of Accommodation

     Range of responses:

  • No restrictions (right to smoke wherever I want) – to –
  • Total ban (do not have the right to affect my health, no smoking anywhere – not even in cars)
  • Designated smoking areas – Many consider these to be the best solution, but disagree on where
    • Few and far away
    • Only at extreme outer points of campus
    • Away from walkways, eating areas, doorways, air intake
    • Parking areas only
    • Indoor only
    • Smoking cabins (found in Europe)


    • Many, conveniently located so they can be used between classes
    • Covered areas for bad weather days
    • Should have passive air filters around them
    • Should be well-planned if they are to be used.
  • Ban indoor use of e-cigarettes – should be subject to same restrictions
  • Maintain current policy  – better enforcement

Respondents commented on the potential unintended results of a ban, including:

  • More conflict, more non-essential work for CSUN Police
  • Could deter some potential students from enrolling; could encourage some to transfer out
  • Could cause emotional and academic difficulties
  • Anger toward university
  • Altercations
  • Poor performance; decrease in concentration
  • Drop in productivity; longer smoking breaks
  • Issues with people congregating on the edges of campus; poor aesthetic
  • Smokers will spend less time and less money on campus
  • Smoking ban could lead to more chewing tobacco
  • More students late to class
  • Campus entrances and surrounding areas would have increased trash
  • Will deter foreign students from enrolling
  • Lots of pushback
  • May be a problem for VPAC patrons

Suggestions on implementation:

  • Students should vote on the issue
  • Grace period – up to one year
  • Smoke-free oath/annual contract
  • Students ‘agree’ via portal that they are aware of policy
  • Consult with other campuses on how they implemented policy
  • If total ban, engage neighbors and local business
  • Student project – develop campaign on new policy

Additional comments…

  • Ban would help those who want to quit
  • Ban would enhance CSUN reputation
  • Driving causes more pollution; reduce commuting instead
  • What about alcohol? High fat or high sugar foods? All sold on campus
  • There are bigger problems – parking, graduation rates, night-time security
  • Skateboarders are more dangerous that smokers
  • Fire hazard associated with hookah on campus (burning coals)

A copy of the original report with the response figures presented in graph format is available for download.