About UH's Tobacco-Free Policy

Policy Statement

The University of Houston prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products on university property outside designated tobacco use areas. The university prohibits any advertising or sale, or free sampling of tobacco products on university property. Littering the campus with the remains of tobacco products or any other related waste product is prohibited. This policy applies to all employees, students, university affiliates, contractors and visitors and is applicable twenty-four (24) hours a day, seven (7) days a week.

The university recognizes its social responsibility to promote the health, wellbeing and safety of UH students, faculty, staff and visitors. As a Tier One research institution, the university considers public health and cancer research to be vital to our core mission. Tobacco prevention programs are most effective when supplemented by strong tobacco-free policies and incorporated into a broader community effort to reduce tobacco use. In light of this information, and to ensure compliance with external cancer research funding requirements, it is the university’s intent to prohibit tobacco use subject to a flexible phase-in period. This policy permits the university to meet sustainable green building design standards through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.


  • Tobacco use is the #1 preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. and worldwide. Each year, an estimated 443,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with serious illness caused by smoking.
  • Even brief exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can cause harm, as nonsmokers inhale the same toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke as smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke is known to cause heart disease, lung cancer, acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and asthma attacks in nonsmokers. Each year, close to 50,000 Americans die from heart disease or lung cancer caused primarily by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
  • The annual economic burden of tobacco use includes more than $96 billion in medical costs and another $97 billion from loss of productivity. In Texas alone, tobacco use costs the state close to $6 billion in health care expenditures each year, including about $315 million in health care expenditures due to exposure to secondhand smoke. 
  • Effectiveness: Comprehensive tobacco-free campus policies have been proven to:
  1. Increase the number of tobacco users who quit;
  2. Reduce the number of young people who begin smoking; 
  3. Reduce the number of casual users who convert to daily tobacco use; and
  4. Reduce the amount of tobacco used by tobacco users.

Other benefits of a tobacco-free policy include a reduction in fire hazards and cleaner grounds and air that support the university’s sustainability (“Green”) efforts.


March 2001: UH Smoke Free Environment (MAPP 06.03.04) policy was enacted, emphasizing a smoking ban in buildings, university-owned or leased motor vehicles, outside areas where smoking could cause a fire risk, and outdoor stadium or event areas where people are crowded together. “No Smoking” signs were designed and posted. A fine of $200 was established (via Title 10, Texas Penal Code, Chapter 48) for persons smoking in areas prohibited by state law.

July 2009: After one revision in February 2005, UH Tobacco Use Policy MAPP 07.02.02 was enacted, adding a ban on smoking within 15 feet of building entrances.

January 2012: The UH Student Government Association passed a bill to expand non-smoking areas of campus to include specific high-density, high-traffic outdoor areas and within 25 feet of building entrances.

February 2012: The Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) entered rule §703.20: Certification of Tobacco-Free Policy for Entities Receiving CPRIT Funds, into the Texas Administrative Code, requiring that all entities receiving or applying for CPRIT funds must certify a tobacco-free workplace by August 31, 2012 in order to remain eligible for CPRIT funding.

March 2012: Provost John Antel established the UH Tobacco Task Force, charged with making recommendations regarding the enactment, support, monitoring, and evaluation of updated university tobacco-related policies.

August 2012: UH President Renu Khator signed and authorized the new UH Tobacco-free Campus Policy.

June 2013: The new UH tobacco policy goes into effect.