Tobacco-free in 2018

Tobacco-free Campus

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is smoke-free, tobacco-free and vapor-free.

Smoke Free icon Chewing Tobacco Free icon Vape Free icon

Since January 1, 2018, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has prohibited smoking, tobacco use and vaping on university properties.

A student-led initiative from the prior year showed significant support from students, faculty and staff for more restrictive smoking policies. Thanks to input from the campus community, the policy encourages healthier choices.

Unclear about the policy? Review the FAQ.

If you’ve thought about quitting, now is a great time to set your quit date. Cessation resources and counseling are available for students, faculty and staff.

Every Husker plays a role in the success of our tobacco-free policy.

If you are comfortable approaching someone who is using tobacco, you are encouraged to respectfully inform the individual of the policy and ask them to comply. If the individual becomes argumentative, do not escalate the situation – just walk away.

To report a campus location with repeated compliance issues, use the TIPS Incident Reporting System.

Tobacco Cessation Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Why did the university choose to go tobacco-free?
    The University of Nebraska–Lincoln strives to foster a healthy and productive environment for all students, employees and visitors. Tobacco use negatively affects the entire community and compromises the university’s decades of investment in a preventive health portfolio. Each year, around 2,500 Nebraskans die from a smoking-related illness and approximately 1,000 Nebraska kids each year become regular smokers.
    Source: Data and Trends on Tobacco Use in Nebraska 2016
  • Is there support for the university becoming tobacco-free?
    Yes, this initiative has been supported at all levels of the university and approved by senior administration. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln is also the last institution in the University of Nebraska system to adopt a smoke-free and tobacco-free policy and joins universities and corporations nationally who have committed to promoting a healthier environment.
  • How does a more restrictive tobacco-free policy clean up the environment?
    Cigarette butts are a fire hazard, increase university maintenance expenses and can be eaten by dogs, birds and other animals. Filters are non-biodegradable and can take 5-10 years to decompose. Chemicals (e.g. hydrogen, cyanide, arsenic, etc.) in tobacco products leak into the soil and water. They are a cost and hazard to the university for clean up and disposal. Source: A practice proposal for solving the world’s cigarette butt problem: Recycling clay fire bricks [Abstract]
  • Are students really at risk?
    Yes, college is a critical time in young adult development during which many lifestyle habits are formed. Nearly 100% of adults who smoke daily started smoking when they were 26 or younger. Sources: Nebraska Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), Nebraska Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), Nebraska Adult Tobacco Survey, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Updated: January 2017.
  • Why not allow people to smoke outdoors? Is there really a health risk?
    Yes, there really is a health risk. The Surgeon General has found there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.
  • Does this policy apply to everyone on campus?
    Yes, this policy applies to university properties and all students, employees and visitors.

What Is and Is Not Permitted?

  • What does the tobacco-free policy mean?
    The tobacco-free policy prohibits smoking, tobacco use, and vaping on university property.
  • What is included in “tobacco?”
    Tobacco is defined as all tobacco-derived or containing products, including but not limited to, cigarettes (e.g., clove, bidis, kreteks), electronic cigarettes, vaporizers, cigars and cigarillos, hookah smoked products, pipes, oral tobacco (e.g., spit and spitless, smokeless, dissolvable, gutka, chew, snuff) and nasal tobacco (e.g. snus). It also includes any product intended to mimic tobacco products, contain tobacco flavoring or deliver nicotine other than for the purpose of cessation.
  • Is smokeless tobacco, such as chew, allowed?
    No, all forms of tobacco are prohibited.
  • Will the use of hookahs and other devices for smoking tobacco be permitted?
    No, hookah use is prohibited.
  • Are electronic-cigarettes (e-cigs) permitted?
    No, e-cigs are prohibited.
  • What cessation products are permitted?
    Only FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy products are permitted.
  • Can I use tobacco in my personal vehicle while on university property?
    Tobacco use is prohibited in any vehicle parked on property that is university owned, leased, occupied, maintained or otherwise controlled by the university.
  • Does the tobacco-free policy apply to university sanctioned events or sporting activities occurring off-campus?
    The policy applies to property that is university owned, leased, occupied, maintained or otherwise controlled by the university at all times.

Options for Tobacco Users

  • Are there resources to help employees and students quit using tobacco?
    Yes, cessation resources are available.
  • Are tobacco cessation services covered through university employee benefits?
    The Employee Assistance Program offers tobacco cessation counseling at no cost to current employees.
  • What will the university do about people leaving the campus or going across the street into neighboring properties to smoke?
    While the policy only applies to property that is university owned, leased, occupied, maintained or otherwise controlled by the university, we ask that students, employees and visitors help maintain a positive relationship with our neighbors. Leaving campus to use tobacco does not give anyone permission to litter or trespass. Property owners have the right to enforce their boundaries. Download a PDF of the boundary map.

Policy Enforcement

  • How will the tobacco-free policy be enforced?
    The enforcement of the tobacco-free campus policy is viewed as the shared responsibility of the campus community. Individuals are encouraged and empowered to respectfully inform others about the policy, to support individuals to be tobacco-free, and improve individual health. Chronic violations are subject to disciplinary action as appropriate by any university policy violation.
  • What if I see someone using tobacco on campus?
    Enforcement will depend upon the thoughtfulness, consideration and cooperation of all students, employees and visitors. Anyone who observes a possible violation may politely inform the individual of the policy.
  • What do I do if my request for someone to stop using tobacco is not effective?
    Specific concerns with regard to noncompliance can be directed to university officials in either Student Affairs or Human Resources.
  • How will people know that tobacco use is prohibited?
    Campus-wide communication is scheduled as part of the policy implementation and signage will be posted upon implementation at major university vehicular, pedestrian and building entrances.
  • What are the boundaries of the university?
    Download a PDF of the boundary map.

Employment Related Questions


  • Will employee work schedules, unpaid lunch periods and/or paid breaks change due to this policy?
    No, we do not anticipate any schedule changes. Units will continue to comply with this policy along with the related university and unit scheduling policies.
  • For units that have a paid break policy that requires employees to take a break in a certain location, will units allow employees to take a paid break off campus?
    Yes. Units will revise policies to allow for off-campus paid breaks.
  • What if an employee’s work location is too far away from a location permitted for tobacco use which results in an employee being unable to comply with a work or break schedule?
    Employees are required to comply with work and break schedules. The tobacco-free policy may limit access to smoking/tobacco use areas. Those who use tobacco products may experience an adjustment. Understanding that smoking/tobacco users may want support to modify their usage, the university is providing cessation programs to aid in a successful transition to being tobacco and smoke-free.
  • Can an employee combine two paid 15 minute breaks, for a total of one 30 minute paid break to allow for time to commute to non-university property?
    No. In limited circumstances units may allow an adjustment in a break schedule based on a qualifying reason for an individual employee as long as it is operationally effective. Tobacco use is not considered a qualifying reason to adjust a break schedule.


  • Will an employee be subject to corrective action or discipline if observed violating this policy?
    Employees are expected to comply with policies, and failure to do so may result in corrective action. (Related policy: Failure to comply with published rules, regulations, policies, or procedures of the employing department or of the University.)
  • Who will enforce this policy?
    All campus community members are encouraged, in an appropriate and respectful manner, to inform anyone observed violating this policy that the tobacco-free policy exists. It is not necessary to contact University Police or administration to report a violation. Unit leadership is responsible for ensuring all students and employees are aware of the policy and that it is enforced in a manner consistent with other university and unit policies. Similarly, supervisors are expected to require employees to comply with the policy.
  • As a supervisor, what is my responsibility if I receive reports or observe an employee violating the policy?
    A supervisor is expected to hold employees accountable to university policy. First, explain the expectations outlined in the policy and provide appropriate resources. If there are continued violations, identify the impact of the employee’s actions and manage it appropriately. For assistance contact your college/unit HR representative for help with how to address matters of non-compliance.
  • Am I able to attend tobacco cessation sessions during paid work time?
    Yes, options for attending tobacco cessation sessions are based on the department’s business needs and may include flexible scheduling in accordance with the university’s Flexible Work Policy and use of leave time in accordance with the university’s Paid Leaves and Unpaid Leaves policies. Employees are expected to work with their supervisor for approval for time away from work to participate in a cessation program.