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VCU is Now a Smoke And Tobacco-Free Campus

Summary of The Policy

Effective July 1, 2019, Virginia Commonwealth University issued a campus-wide ban of all tobacco products including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaporizers and smokeless tobacco. 

The policy prohibits smoking and the use of all tobacco products on university-owned property including buildings, vehicles (like RamSafe), areas within 25 feet of university buildings and all streets and sidewalks owned or controlled by VCU.

Thomas Briggs, assistant vice president for safety and risk management at VCU, stated that the policy reflects the ideal that “VCU is committed to eliminating known health hazards and promoting healthy habits among students, patients, faculty and staff.”

The smoke and tobacco-free campus policy applies to students, faculty, staff, visitors and even local residents that are not affiliated with the university, but simply passing through campus.

You can read the complete university policy definitions, specifics and procedures here.

The new policy was initiated on the same day that the legal age in Virginia to purchase tobacco products was raised from 18 to 21, with an exception for active duty military members. It is now obvious that attitudes about smoking, even when outdoors, are changing.

If you are a smoker, you may be freaking out right now, worried that you’ll have to quit smoking right this minute or risk getting caught in violation of the policy. Although don’t freak out just yet – designated smoking areas will remain an option for you.

Currently, there are five located on or around the Monroe Park Campus: behind The Well and behind the VCU Construction Management office on Grace St., between Shafer Dining Center and Ritter-Hickok and outside both the East and West Halls at the College of Engineering. The MCV Campus has been smoke and tobacco-free since 2010.

I made a map (pictured below) showing where these designated smoking areas should exist, based on the vague definitions given on the FAQ page of the tobacco-free campus policy website.

VCU Facilities Management will also accept proposals for additional designated smoking areas, as long as they comply with policy provisions.

As many of you may know, e-cigarettes and vaporizers are commonly used for inhalant products that are tobacco and nicotine-free, such as CBD oil, an FDA-approved dietary supplement that many people use for stress and anxiety relief.

But, there’s no loophole in the new policy for CBD and tobacco-free vape juice users. All forms of smoking on campus property are prohibited, whether it be legal plant products or propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, which are the only active ingredients in nicotine-free e-liquids, meant for e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

Tobacco Cessation Programs

The university appears to be aware that a significant amount of its student body and faculty members are smokers, and that they are essentially forcing the hand of the smoking population in their personal decision to quit by passing the policy.

If you’re a smoker, unless you one of the designated smoking areas is convenient for you, you are now faced with a decision: take the extra time to go out of your way to one of the designated smoking areas, or quit.

If you’ve ever quite smoking, or tried to, I know you can attest to this: It’s hard. What likely began as a habit to manage or relieve stress and anxiety, has now become a physical addiction, which the American Medical Association recognizes as a disease. The decision to quit smoking is certainly not one that you should be embarrassed about asking for help with.

The Well at VCU has implemented some cost-free tobacco cessation plans and programs, which are available to all students, faculty and staff.

You can email quit@vcu.edu to schedule a private appointment with a trained tobacco cessation coach, or to request a quit kit, all free of charge. The quit kit includes Nicorette gum, transdermal patches and educational information on nicotine.

For more information on VCU’s tobacco cessation programs, you can visit this page on the tobacco-free policy website.  


Image credit: 1, 2, 3

Noelle is a senior at VCU pursuing a B.I.S. with a minor in Media Studies. She knows this will be of great use to her when her lifelong dream of becoming a stand-up comedian is actualized. When she's not working at the animal shelter, or busy avoiding her schoolwork by doing yoga, you can find her attempting to sleep while her cats do everything in their power to prevent it.
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