Frequently Asked Questions

What does "smoke and tobacco free" mean?

Smoking is defined as inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying a lighted or heated product such as tobacco, marijuana, other smokeable substances or smoking instruments that emit smoke.

Tobacco use is defined as use of all forms of tobacco, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, shisha, pipes, water pipes (hookah), all forms of smokeless tobacco including but not limited to chew, snus, snuff, sticks, strips and orbs, and electronic cigarettes (battery powered devices designed to look and feel like regular cigarettes, but they emit water vapor rather than smoke).

The use of these products is prohibited indoors and out.

Why are e-cigarettes included in the policy?

E-cigarettes are included in the policy because to date, there have been no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies conducted that prove e-cigarettes are a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy. We realize many smokers have used e-cigarettes to assist them in their efforts to quit smoking; however both the US Food & Drug Administration and the World Health Organization (WHO) have publicly discouraged the use of e-cigarettes. 

According to the WHO, "scientific testing indicates that the products vary widely in the amount of nicotine and other chemicals they deliver and there is no way for consumers to find out what is actually delivered by the product they have purchased." Additionally, "chemicals used in electronic cigarettes have not been fully disclosed, and there are no adequate data on their emissions."  

Recent research studies show that secondhand exposure does occur with some studies showing that e-cigarette emissions can contain nicotine levels comparable to secondhand tobacco smoke (1, 2, and 3). Secondhand exposure to nicotine is potentially particularly problematic for children, pregnant women and persons with cardiovascular conditions. 

E-cigarettes also emit volatile organic compounds, like benzene and toluene; heavy metals, like nickel and arsenic; tobacco specific carcinogens; and carbon compounds like formaldehyde and acrolein (4, 5). While the concentration of these chemicals are lower than in tobacco smoke and vary across brands, these vapors are a new source of ultrafine/ fine particles in the environment to which the public is exposed. Although the industry marketing of the product implies that e-cigarettes are harmless, the vapor that they emit is not purely water vapor. 

Therefore, until we fully understand the effectiveness and safety of e-cigarettes, we feel it is our responsibility to the University community to include them in our Smoke and Tobacco Free policy. Though the use of electronic cigarettes is prohibited on University property for purposes of this policy, other forms of nicotine replacement therapy such as gum, lozenges and patches are allowed. For more information on e-cigarettes, please read the WHO's statement on e-cigarettes.

Additional links from Student Health and Counseling Services:

Debunking the Myths of Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigs)

Electronic Cigarettes

1. Flouris AD et al., Acute impact of active and passive electronic cigarette smoking on serum cotinine and lung function.,2013; Inhalation Toxicology, Feb;25(2):91-101. doi: 10.3109/08958378.2012.758197 

2. Schripp T et al., Does e-cigarette consumption cause passive vaping? Indoor Air.2013 Feb;23(1):25-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0668.2012.00792.x.Epub 2012 Jul 2. 

3. Czogala J et al., Secondhand exposure to vapors from electronic cigarettes. Nicotine Tob Res (2013) doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntt203 

4. Goniewicz ML et al., Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes, Tob Control, March 2013; doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050859; 

5. Williams M et al., Metal and Silicate Particles Including Nanoparticles Are Present in Electronic Cigarette Cartomizer Fluid and Aerosol, 2013 PLoS ONE 8(3): e57987. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057987. 

Where does the policy apply?

The policy prohibits smoke and tobacco use at all indoor and outdoor spaces owned or leased by UC Davis, including parking lots, streets, the UC Davis Medical Center (smoke free since 2008), and remote campus locations throughout the state and nation. The policy also applies to all housing buildings and facilities that are rented from the University

There are no designated smoking areas.

What about the University's neighbors?

UC Davis asks that our students, faculty and staff help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors that border the campus. Please respect our campus neighbors by not congregating in areas to smoke and not littering tobacco products on private property or city-owned streets and sidewalks. The City of Davis has its own no smoking ordinance in which smoking is prohibited in outdoor areas, and smoking, except while passing on the way to another destination.

Isn't this a violation of my civil rights? Don't I have a right to smoke on campus?

No, there is no “right” to use tobacco under either state or federal law.  The University has the authority to govern the use of university property and facilities and to establish policies that protect the health of all campus members. This policy does not force smokers and/or tobacco users to quit, it prohibits the use of smoke and tobacco products on campus property.

Is smoking or tobacco use allowed in personal vehicles?
Smoking and the use of tobacco are not permitted in personal vehicles if the vehicle is on UC Davis property.
When did the policy go into effect?
UC Davis became smoke and tobacco free on January 1, 2014.
Who does the policy apply to?
The policy applies to everyone on any UC Davis property, in Davis and beyond, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.
How is the policy being enforced?

Enforcement will initially be educational. Persons found smoking on campus will be offered information about the policy and about smoking cessation resources.

After an initial phase-in period, additional reinforcement measures may be considered.

What should I do if I see someone smoking or using other tobacco products?

All members of the campus community are asked to help support the policy. If you see someone smoking, he or she might not be aware of the policy. Please remind them in a friendly way that:

  • The campus became 100% smoke and tobacco free on January 1, 2014.
  • The policy applies indoors and out, including parking lots and open spaces.
  • They can learn more on the web at, including how to get a free short-term supply of nicotine replacement therapy.

There’s no need to lecture smokers on the dangers of tobacco use (most smokers already know this) nor engage in any debate about the policy itself. Just be friendly and understanding.

Policy reminder cards may be handed out to tobacco users. They are the size of a business card and include information about the policy along with resources for tobacco users. Email to obtain a supply.

This approach has been adopted to phase in this new policy, build awareness and understanding of the policy, and foster the cultural change necessary to make it a success. As the policy becomes established, the need for more formal reinforcement measures will be evaluated.

Should I report incidents of smoking?

Please use the Breathe Free online feedback form for sharing information about policy violations, giving suggestions, and asking questions. You won’t be asked to name names--the form does not ask for the name of the violator, just for details about observations or interactions with smokers.

This feedback will help the campus determine future policy enforcement strategies, if needed.

Why did UC Davis go smoke and tobacco free?

UC Davis joined all UC campuses and medical centers, and more than 1,200 other U.S. universities, in becoming a smoke free university (see ANRF's list of all smoke & tobacco free campuses). UC Davis Medical Center has been smoke free since 2008. Support for a smoke free campus is strong - over 80% of undergraduates at UC Davis reported in 2011 that they supported the idea of a tobacco free policy on the main campus (ACHA National College Health Assessment II).

This policy is based on the work of the systemwide Smoking Policy Subcommittee of the Occupational Wellness Forum. Their Smoke-free Policy Proposal summarized the rationale for considering a smoke free policy for all UC locations and included a proposed timeline, implementation plan and proposed policy language.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that it costs employers $3,383/year for each employee who smokes: $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in medical costs related to smoking.

According to the CDCtobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and the U.S. Surgeon General states that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke. In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (i.e., about 443,000 deaths per year). An estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are attributable to secondhand smoke exposure and according to the Environmental Protection Agency an estimated 3,000 of those are due to lung cancer. Nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke increase their heart disease risk by 25-30% (CDC). 

A smoke and tobacco free campus:

  • Creates a healthier environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors
  • Supports tobacco users who are trying to quit and help those who have quit remain smoke free
  • Reduces the number of new tobacco users by promoting the social norm of a smoke and tobacco free environment
Do smoke and tobacco free policies actually work?

Yes! Smoke free environments facilitate cessation. A 2002 study published in the British Medical Journal found that tobacco users who worked in completely smoke free environments were more likely to quit than their counterparts working in areas where smoking was permitted (source: Fichtenberg, C. & Glantz, S. Effect of smoke free workplaces on smoking behavior: systematic review. British Medical Journal. 2002; 325, 188)

Additionally, smoke free campus policies are proven to decrease current smoking prevalence in students, decrease the amount of cigarettes used by those who continue to smoke, positively influence students’ perceptions of peer smoking, change social norms around tobacco use, and increase favorable attitudes towards regulation of tobacco. These findings are consistent with a study that found that college students who lived in smoke free residences were more likely to be nonsmokers. (source: Seo, D.-C., Macy, J., Torabi, M., & Middlestadt. (2011). The effect of a smoke free campus policy on college students’ smoking behaviors and attitudes. Preventive Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.07.015.)

For additional information on the effectiveness of smoke and tobacco free policies, please visit

Where can I find information about UC systemwide smoke and tobacco free efforts?
The UC Smoke and Tobacco Free policy website is Additional information and links to the smoke and tobacco free websites of the individual UC campuses can be found there.
My question isn't on this page. Who should I contact?
Please feel free to use our online feedback form for any questions, suggestions, and observations of policy violations that you may have. You will have the option to provide your email address if you want a personal response.