On June 1, 2013, the University of Houston was designated as a tobacco-free campus. Initial implementation included the establishment of designated tobacco-use locations on the UH main campus and at the Energy Research Park. The designated tobacco-use areas were to be available for a minimum of 12 months from the date of the policy enactment. The ongoing need for any or all designated tobacco-free areas was to be review annually.
Based upon the recommendation of the Tobacco Task Force comprised of faculty, staff and students, the designated tobacco-use areas at the University of Houston and UH Sugar Land will be eliminated effective August 17, 2015. The use of all tobacco products is prohibited in university buildings and on university grounds, including parking areas, sidewalks, walkways, university-affiliated parking facilities and university-owned buildings, except in temporary designated tobacco-use areas.
The tobacco-free campus policy is part of the university’s commitment to creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all members of the UH community, and is designed to be positive and health-directed. The university is not requiring faculty, staff and students to quit using tobacco products, but does expect the policy to be adhered to by all individuals on university property.
Enforcement of the policy will be achieved primarily through education, awareness and a spirit of cooperation. Tobacco users are expected to adhere to the policy and be respectful to ex-tobacco users and non-tobacco users. Individuals noticing violations of the policy should strive to be non-confrontational and respectful to tobacco users when communicating this policy.
In summary, the tobacco-use policy:
- Activates tobacco cessation screenings, services and referrals for UH students and employees who want to quit;
- Prohibits the use, sale, advertising and sampling of all tobacco products on the UH Main Campus and the Energy Research Park, including all buildings, vehicles, grounds, sidewalks and parking areas owned or operated by UH;
- Effective implementation relies on the courtesy, respect and cooperation of all members of the UH community. If someone is seen using tobacco on university property outside a designated tobacco use area, any member of the UH community may inform the tobacco user of the policy and request that he/she comply. Individuals who are reported to the Tobacco Task Force for non-compliance will receive a message reminding them of the policy, and the availability of tobacco cessation services. There are no plans at this time to issue citations or fines, or to report anyone to his or her supervisor.
In a broader sense, the tobacco-free policy is another benefit of attending or working for a Tier One-designated university. Other benefits include reduced fire hazards and cleaner campus grounds.