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E-cigarettes, other changes covered by smoke-free policy updates

April 27, 2016 By Greg Bump

The University of Wisconsin–Madison smoke-free policy has been updated to include language prohibiting electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes. These devices are already prohibited by many campus units but the current policy is silent on their use and many students and employees have requested clarification.

Sarah Van Orman, director of University Health Services, says electronic smoking devices have not been fully studied and it is not yet known what potential risks they pose to users and those who breathe in the vapor second-hand.

“It isn’t known how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled,” Van Orman says. “We think the policy changes are a proactive approach to ensuring safety on campus.”

UW–Madison governance groups have reviewed the policy updates, which include:

  1. Current policy permits smoking in areas prohibited by the Wisconsin Clean Indoor Air Act. The revised policy removes exceptions for indoor spaces including lodging facilities and athletic facilities.
  2. Addition of new exceptions for research, cultural/religious ceremonies, and theatrical productions.
  3. Inclusion of electronic smoking devices including electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos and pipes on the list of prohibited smoking devices.

The smoke-free policy was adopted in 1991 and last amended in 2011. It covers all buildings, facilities and vehicles owned, operated or leased by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, regardless of location.

Smoking is also not permitted near exits and entrances of buildings, except at a reasonable distance (25 feet or more) or unless otherwise designated.

Resources are available for students, faculty, and staff to stop smoking. The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line is available 24 hours daily, seven days a week at 800-784-8669 or online.

Students may also contact UHS at 608-265-5600 or online.