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These FAQ and respective answers provide background information on the importance of the policy as well as some guidance for smokers and non-smokers.
  • Why has the UH adopted this policy?
    Second-hand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a known human carcinogen to which there is no safe level of exposure. It contains over 4,000 chemicals, of which more than 40 are known or suspected carcinogens. Any level of exposure to these carcinogens could lead to negative health outcomes. Moreover, second-hand smoke has been shown to have a direct effect on cancer rates. Recent research shows that second-hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death behind smoking and alcohol, and the cancer mortality from second-hand smoke alone exceeds the combined mortality from all regulated environmental carcinogens. The harmful effect of second-hand smoke goes beyond long-term risks as well. People in our community are being directly affected in their daily experiences on campus. For example, a recent survey revealed that 28% of UH faculty and clerical employees suffer from asthma or other allergies affected by second-hand smoke exposure on our campuses. The University of Hawai‘i has a mission “to create positive, healthful, resource efficient and sustainable physical environments on the campuses of the University that enhance the psychological well-being of the students, employees and community members” according to the system strategic plan. As such, it is the responsibility of universities to protect its students, faculty and staff from second-hand smoke, and with this knowledge, this and other universities around the country have and are taking steps to provide this protection.
  • What are the key provisions of the policy?
  • I am not a smoker. Why should the current policy concern me?
    Each year, 3,000 nonsmokers in the United States die from lung cancer alone caused by second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is also linked to cancer of the nasal cavity, cervix, breast, and bladder. Also, for pregnant women or women currently nursing infant children, second-hand smoke exposure has been shown to pass through the mother's body and harm their children. These issues affect many on our campus besides smokers. Everyone has a right to a smoke-free environment, and you should take an active role in protecting your health by saying no to second-hand smoke. See the section on How to Say NO to Second-Hand Smoke.
  • I am a smoker. How does the policy affect my smoking?
    The policy clearly states where smoking is not allowed. As long as you avoid the areas specified in the policy, you are still able to smoke. However, as you already know, smoking is very harmful to your health. Studies show that smoking control policies like this one can actually help smokers quit or reduce smoking. Perhaps you might take this opportunity to think about quitting. As part of the new policy, UH provides support to faculty, staff, and students who are interested in quitting smoking and need help. Go to the How You Can Quit Smoking section for more info.
  • Why regulate smoking outdoors? Wouldn't smoke disappear quickly anyway?
    Unfortunately, two factors in Hawai‘i make outdoor smoking particularly problematic: warm temperatures and trade winds. Smoke rises when a plume is hotter than the surrounding air, and in Hawai‘i’s warm atmosphere, cigarette smoke—which quickly cools—rises and then descends until the air is saturated with second-hand smoke. Trade winds also affect the rising of cigarette smoke. Higher wind speeds lead to less smoke rising, and smoke contaminants remain in the air to be inhaled by persons present and/or carried into nearby indoor areas. These reasons make it important to limit the opportunity for smoke contamination in areas where individuals are required to be present or pass through as part of their job or education, as well as away from openings to indoor areas, including building courtyards and doorways.
  • What’s the harm in letting individuals smoke in their own enclosed space?
    Smoke travels. Open doors, space in doorframes, heating vents, and other airways allow smoke to travel outside the boundary of an individual’s room. Because environmental tobacco smoke, like asbestos, is a Class A carcinogen, any amount of exposure is harmful.
  • Isn’t it a violation of a person’s rights to regulate their personal living space?
    No. As owners of residential property, colleges and universities have the right to regulate use of the space and the way it is treated. Significant smoking-related damage, from extra cleaning to fires, harms property and costs money to repair. Most colleges and universities have specific guidelines for use of campus residences, including some that may seem minor and cause minimal damage, such as using tacks or adhesive tape on dorm walls. Banning smoking in rooms is one more facet of preventive maintenance. More and more landlords outside university settings now only accept nonsmokers for this reason.
  • Why not just let roommates work it out?
    Many students lack the skills or confidence to argue with their roommate on this topic. They also fear angering their roommate or damaging their friendship. With no policy and clear school support behind them, many students do not feel empowered to stand up for themselves. Furthermore, even when the subject is broached, the smoking roommate may not comply. Roommate relationships are complicated enough as it is. It is unfair to students to place them in this no-win situation.
  • What’s wrong with allowing the sale of a legal product on campus?
    Universities and colleges are breeding grounds for lung cancer, especially now that the national college smoking rate has climbed to 28.5%. Allowing the sale of tobacco products on campus puts colleges in an ethical quandary. This permission, let alone any profit from tobacco sales, makes colleges complicit in destroying the lives of the very students they seek to educate.
  • Who enforces the policy?
    All of us do. This policy is being implemented to ensure that everyone who works and studies at the UH campuses is protected from exposure to second-hand smoke that is known to cause cancer and other disease. Success of a policy like this depends largely on the conscientiousness, consideration and activism of everyone of us. So, next time you see someone who is smoking in a restricted area, don’t just pass by. Speak up. It is about protecting your health, and you need to take an active role!
  • Where do I go if I have complaints or questions about the policy?
    If you have complaints about someone or an area where people are not complying with the policy, you can contact the following offices in each campus.
    click here for list

  • Where can I go for for help to quit smoking?
    See the section on How You Can Quit Smoking for resources on quitting.

    OR go to the UH BEAT-IT website.
  • Where can I find out more about tobacco's impact on our community and elsewhere in the world?
    The story about tobacco and the tobacco industry is long and often troubling. You can find a lot of information on the web at
    • American Legacy Foundation (
    • Action on Smoking and Health (
    • World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative (