Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Planning a Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative

The input you receive from management, union representatives, and employees in the needs assessment will influence many of the decisions you will need to make during the planning phase of your tobacco-free campus (TFC) initiative. The first step in the planning phase is to convene a formal planning committee. This committee will be charged with formulating plans for:

Convening a Planning Committee

You can use the committee formed during the needs assessment phase or expand this committee to include broader representation. In addition to employees, consider recruiting representatives from the following departments:

  • no tobacco use signCommunications
  • Employee benefits
  • Facilities and operations
  • Health and safety
  • Human resources
  • Labor unions
  • Management
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Policy/Legal
  • Security/Enforcement

The committee's first steps should include selecting a group chairperson, clearly defining the mission and goals of the group, developing an estimated budget, and creating a tentative timeline for implementation that includes appropriate lead time. Assume a timeline of 12 to 18 months. Consider forming subcommittees or workgroups to address different components of the TFC initiative (e.g., policy development, policy implementation, cessation services, evaluation) that will need to be planned simultaneously. Alternatively, the planning committee may decide to implement the expanded cessation services component of the initiative while the TFC policy is being finalized.

Developing a TFC Policy

While various types of workplace smoking restrictions are possible, a tobacco-free campus policy is the most comprehensive and provides the best health and safety benefits for employees. Before drafting the TFC policy provisions, clearly spell out the desired policy objectives and then determine the policy provisions that are required to achieve them. The policy will be clearer, more consistent, easier to enforce, and more effective in achieving its objectives if it is applied in the most comprehensive manner possible, with no or minimal exceptions.

The policy provisions should address such questions as:

  • Does the policy apply to only smoking or to the use of any tobacco product?
  • Are employees prohibited from bringing tobacco products or just using these products on campus?
  • What tobacco use cessation services will the organization offer to employees and through what channels?
  • Does the policy apply to contractors, fellows, clients, patients, visitors, and other nonemployees, or only to employees?
  • Does the policy apply to all campus areas (e.g., owned property, leased facilities, parking lots, parking decks, construction areas)?
  • Does the policy apply only during normal working hours, during hours when the campus is open to the public, or 24 hours a day/seven days a week?
  • What provisions exist for employees to take smoking breaks?
  • Are employees allowed to leave the campus to smoke during the workday?
  • Does the policy apply to the use of tobacco products in private vehicles while these vehicles are on campus (e.g., in parking lots)?
  • Does the policy apply to the use of tobacco products in company vehicles when these vehicles are on campus? When these vehicles are off campus?
  • Who is responsible for informing staff? Visitors?
  • Who is responsible for spotting and reporting violations? Fielding complaints regarding possible violations? Initiating disciplinary measures for noncompliance?
  • What will the disciplinary measures be?

See CDC’s policy [PDF-229k] for an example of a tobacco-free campus policy.

TFC policies are effective only when they are accompanied by adequate, carefully planned education, implementation, and enforcement. Develop clear procedures for enforcing the policy. Care should be taken to enforce the policy in an equitable manner that does not single out or exempt any particular groups of employees. It is important to involve security management in the policy development process at an early stage to obtain their buy-in and input and to ensure that the policy realistically reflects the role security can play in enforcing it.

Consider drawing on disciplinary procedures, measures, and sanctions that are already in place for other behavioral infractions. For example, the procedures could apply a series of progressively more severe sanctions for repeated violations, beginning with a simple warning. Enforcement procedures should make clear that supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees under their charge are aware of the policy and in compliance and for taking appropriate action to correct noncompliance.

Once the planning committee has finalized the policy provisions, present the proposed policy to top management and labor union leadership or other employee representatives to obtain their approval and buy-in. Reach a final agreement on the TFC policy provisions and set a date for implementation (estimate four to six months out). Do not publicize the policy until this has occurred.

Offering Comprehensive Tobacco Use Cessation Services

While TFC policies do not require employees to quit using tobacco products, the environmental and cultural change may encourage them to try to quit. Tobacco use cessation support services can maximize this effect by improving employees' chances of quitting. Therefore these services are an important complement to the TFC policy and a key component of the overall TFC initiative.

The benefits of offering tobacco use cessation support for employees in conjunction with a TFC policy may include:

  • Reassuring tobacco users that the company is not trying to stigmatize them but is concerned about their health
  • Demonstrating the company's commitment to supporting employees who use tobacco products in their efforts to quit
  • Improving employee health
  • Reducing tobacco-related health care costs

Cessation services also provide incentives for employees who are contemplating a quit attempt to make such an attempt, especially if the services are free and convenient (e.g., offered on-site, offered on company time). The Guide to Community Preventive Services found that reducing out-of-pocket costs for cessation services increases the number of people who attempt to quit, the use of proven cessation therapies, and the number of people who successfully quit.

Work site tobacco use cessation support should ideally encompass a variety of types of assistance in order to meet the diverse needs of employees who use tobacco products and not all assistance has to be offered at the work site. For example, consider talking with your state about promoting your state's telephone quitline as one available resource for tobacco use cessation support.

Telephone Quitlines: An Effective Avenue for Cessation Support

Telephone quitlines are a common component of tobacco use cessation services for a number of reasons.

"As a single centralized operation with recognizable branding and universal toll-free access, a quitline is a good way to let tobacco users, wherever they are, know that help is available if they need it. In this way, a quitline complements other tobacco control activities that increase tobacco users' desire to quit. Such interactions create a synergy among different components of the program (Burns 2000)."
Telephone Quitlines: A Resource for Development, Implementation, and Evaluation [PDF-3.8Mb] )

In addition, telephone quitlines have been proven effective. On the basis of strong evidence of effectiveness, The Guide to Community Preventive Services recommends that telephone support be included in multicomponent programs to help people quit using tobacco products. Based on this, there are currently quitlines in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories. Access state quitlines by calling the National Network of Quitlines (1-800-QUIT-NOW, 1-800-784-8669).

CDC promotes colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) prevention by building partnerships, encouraging screening, supporting education and training, and conducting surveillance and research. CDC promotes colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon and rectum) prevention by building partnerships, encouraging screening, supporting education and training, and conducting surveillance and research.

Your TFC planning committee may want to consider contacting your state health department and offering to support the quitline for provision of services for your organization's staff and their families, especially if you are a large employer. Medications can be provided through the quitline under an agreement.

Below are some sample questions that will help you determine the eligibility requirements for your tobacco use cessation services program:

  • Should cessation services be made available to only regular (e.g., non-contractor, full-time) employees or should we include other types of employees (e.g., contractors or fellows)?
  • For federal agencies: Federal appropriations laws restrict the use of appropriated funds for nonfederal employees. What local services are available to address the needs of these employees?
  • Should the tobacco use cessation services program incorporate employees' support systems (family members) and retirees? If this is not possible, what services can your organization promote or provide to other tobacco users in the household? People are less likely to quit and remain tobacco-free if a spouse or significant other continues to smoke cigarettes.2
  • Can you engage the companies that provide contract staff in the provision of cessation services?

Next Steps

Periodically brief top management on the planning committee's progress and make sure that the TFC initiative remains on their radar screen. You can begin developing a communication plan for promoting the launch of your TFC initiative.

TFC Example Tools

Other Helpful Information


1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coverage for Tobacco Use Cessation Treatments. Available at

2Mermelstein R, Cohen S, Lichtenstein E, Baer JS, Kamarck T. Social support
and smoking cessation and maintenance. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 1986;54:447–453.

Top of Page

Healthier Worksite Initiative
Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
    24 Hours/Every Day
  • Contact CDC-INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #