Anti-Tobacco Campaign

A vibrant, healthy Sacramento State campus is moving to get that much healthier on Sept. 1, 2017, when a ban on smoking and tobacco use goes into effect.

The move to make Sac State a tobacco- and smoke-free campus, announced by University President Dr. Robert S. Nelsen during his Fall Address on Aug. 24, is part of a CSU-wide initiative.

Executive Order 1108, issued in April by CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, is a sweeping prohibition of smoking of any kind on all CSU campuses, including vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes or other devices. It also prohibits on-campus use of all tobacco products, regardless of how they are ingested.

Nelsen sees significant benefits from the ban.

“I believe that the ban will have a positive impact on the health of our campus,” he said. “Aside from the obvious removal of toxic smoke from our campus environment, there will also be a decrease in litter as cigarette butts will no longer be discarded on our campus grounds.”

Preparing for the ban, Sacramento State started its “Breathe Easy” campaign, an effort to educate the University community about the executive order and provide on-campus resources and assistance.

“I hope that current tobacco users will take advantage of opportunities to decrease or stop their use of tobacco products,” Nelsen said.

Luis Kischmischian of the Division of Student Affairs said that banners carrying the “Breathe Easy” message will be placed throughout the campus as part of an education effort that will continue through the fall semester.

During that time, the ban will not be enforced, nor will penalties be imposed on smokers. Kischmischian said in an email that the fall focus will be to educate the campus community about the ban. Discussions about what penalties might be appropriate will be held during the fall and should lead to decisions about the best approach.

Nelsen anticipates student support for the ban.

“As with any policy change, it will take time to educate everyone on campus,” he said, “but I expect that people will respect and follow the ban once they are fully informed.”

Until the ban, smoking is allowed at least 20 feet away from buildings.

Though the financial impact of the ban is to be borne by individual universities in the system, Kischmischian said cost should be minimal.

Toni Molle, director of Public Affairs for the chancellor, put the move in a larger context, citing the need for a healthy environment to help provide the best educational experience.

Creation and implementation of smoke- and tobacco-free campuses, Molle wrote on behalf of the chancellor, provides “California State University’s faculty, staff, students, guests and the public with campuses that support the principle of one’s individual freedom to learn, teach, work, think and take part in their intellectual endeavors in a fulfilling, rewarding, safe and healthy environment.”

How to address on-campus smoking has been a topic for several years. In 2013, Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez approved a tobacco ban to take effect in 2015. That move was put on hold in favor of an informational campaign that anticipated the overall ban made official by the chancellor’s Executive Order 1108.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation banning smoking on CSU campuses in 2016, reasoning that the university system could set its own policy without requiring the Legislature to step in. The order from the Chancellor’s Office does just that.

The State Hornet in October 2016 published an editorial rejecting a ban and calling instead for establishment of “two or three” designated smoking areas. – Brian Blomster