Campus News

What You Need to Know About Oberlin’s Tobacco-Free Policy

June 6, 2016

Lisa Gulasy

In 2014, both the Student Senate and General Faculty passed a Tobacco-Free Policy that prohibits the use of all tobacco products by students, staff, faculty, and visitors on campus property. The policy is scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2016.

Here, we share answers to several questions many students, staff, and faculty have posed regarding the policy to help keep all of those within our community informed.

What exactly is the Oberlin Tobacco-Free policy?

Oberlin’s Tobacco-Free Policy prohibits the use of all tobacco products by students, staff, faculty and visitors in the following areas:

  • All buildings, facilities, properties, and vehicles owned or operated by Oberlin College
  • All campus grounds, including at outdoor athletics events and programs held on college property
  • All campus facilities or on campus grounds being used for private events

For the purpose of this policy, tobacco use is defined as:

  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, clove cigarettes, hookahs, or any other tobacco product
  • Using any form of smokeless tobacco, including dip, chew, snuff, or snus

Who created the policy?

The policy is the creation of the Tobacco Committee, a subcommittee of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Committee (ATOD) comprised of students, staff, and faculty.

ATOD suggested Oberlin College consider becoming tobacco-free in 2010 based on the recommendations of the American College Health Association, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and national trends among colleges and universities. In collaboration with the Lorain County Health Department, the Tobacco Committee assessed campus readiness to become tobacco-free through discussions, surveys, and meetings over a two-year period. Support for a tobacco-free campus among students, staff, and faculty grew during this time.

Why was this policy adopted?

Tobacco use is a health and wellness issue, a social justice issue, and an environmental sustainability issue. Oberlin College adopted this policy because it is committed to addressing these and other important topics.

Are there any exemptions from the policy?

The policy does not apply to private property or areas of the city of Oberlin in the vicinity of campus grounds, only property explicitly owned by the college. Tobacco products are permitted for use in Tappan Square, except during public events.

Portable electronic vaporizers such as e-cigarettes are not considered tobacco products under the policy. Portable electronic vaporizers are permitted for outdoor use at least 30 feet from campus buildings. They are not permitted for indoor use, nor are they permitted for use during outdoor public events such as Commencement.

The use of tobacco products in Tappan Square and the outdoor use of portable electronic vaporizers will be reevaluated in 2018.

How will people know about the policy?

Every member of the Oberlin College community is responsible for observing the policy and encouraging a tobacco-free campus. If you see anyone not complying with the policy, you are asked to respectfully explain to that individual that tobacco use is not permitted on campus. Direct them to for more information.

Additionally, green signs that classify the college as tobacco-free have been posted by exterior doors of most campus buildings.

What if I need help quitting smoking?

The focus of this policy is on providing education and cessation opportunities. Therefore, tobacco cessation programs and support have been made available to all Oberlin College students, staff, and faculty.

Student Health Services and the Counseling Center offer Quit Kits that contain literature about cessation as well as oral fixation tools that can help you through the quitting process. Student Health Services can provide medical and counseling support for students who want to quit smoking. Members or the Counseling Center have been trained in cessation support.

Cessation support is available to all staff through the CIGNA Health plan. Patches and gum are provided free to enrollees. Staff and faculty are encouraged to contact human resources at 440-775-8180 to find out what other medications and therapies are covered.

Additional information about medications and support options for quitting tobacco use can be found on this web page.

Has the college ever implemented policies like this before?

In 1993, the college adopted a policy that limited smoking by students, staff, faculty, and visitors to outdoor areas on campus that are 30 feet away from building entrances, exits, and smoking vents. Smoking had previously been banned at all times in all campus buildings and college-owned vehicles.

For even more information about Oberlin’s Tobacco-Free Policy, including more frequently asked questions, visit

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