Monday, March 23, 2009

We want your feedback!

Thank you for coming to HKB's blog dedicated to informing the Hopkins Community about our efforts to make Homewood a 100% smoke-free campus. Below, you will find posts focusing on each area of our Smoke-free Campus Proposal. Please read each section in its entirety and leave a comment with your feedback and suggestions. Keep in mind, this blog represents a proposal, which is subject to change based on feedback. We greatly appreciate comments that offer improvements and bring to light areas not already highlighted.

The mission of Hopkins Kicks Butts is to promote a healthier campus community through activism and awareness against tobacco use. The purpose of this policy is not to infringe upon anyone's rights, but to promote the well-being of the student body by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.

Click here for a recent article in the Newsletter about our efforts.

Please note, we respect your opinions and encourage any questions or criticisms, but please keep all comments clean and polite. As representatives of JHU, all parties must be respectful. Any comments including derogatory or explicit language will not be posted. Comments in support of the proposal are also appreciated.

Thank you,
Hopkins Kicks Butts
A Center for Health Education and Wellness Group

Because HKB is a Center for Health Education and Wellness student group, the comments must be moderated before being posted to ensure no derogatory or explicit language is used. All other comments will be posted, but it may take time for them to appear. We will update the comments regularly, but unfortunately, it cannot be instant. Please check back often to view comments. Thank you.

Why we're doing it...

The Hopkins reputation

  • The Johns Hopkins University is heavily focused on health-related fields, and the School of Medicine is one of the most prestigious medical institutions in the world.
  • Hopkins ought to establish policies that emphasize good health and protect students from the known hazards of secondhand smoke.
  • By banning smoking on campus, Hopkins will set an important precedent by protecting students from the dangerous chemicals and carcinogens in secondhand smoke.

Student support

  • Many students, faculty and staff on the Homewood campus have voiced their opinions supporting the ban of smoking.
  • Over 820 students, faculty members, and staff have signed a petition supporting a 100% campus-wide ban on smoking.
    – These signatures were ascertained in less than twenty hours.

National recommendations

  • The American College Health Association has recently released an official statement on tobacco on American college and university campuses, strongly urging campuses to move toward a tobacco-free environment. Our current efforts are focused on smoke-free campuses (smokeless tobacco permitted), but are willing to support tobacco-free if deemed necessary.
  • The media has taken notice of this trend for over two years now. The American Cancer Society urges campuses to be leaders in this trend rather than waiting to become followers.

The harm it causes...

The harms of secondhand smoke
  • Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.
  • The current Surgeon General’s Report and the CDC have concluded that scientific evidence indicates that there is no-risk free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack. CDC

The evidence on campus

  • Smoking related litter around campus
  • Individuals who ignore No Smoking signs
  • Smoking receptacles located within close proximity to entrances
  • Condensed areas of smokers (ex: near the library, near dorm entrances)

Student feedback
The following is a letter written to Dean Boswell in regard to secondhand smoke:

I’m a freshman living in ***. My first couple of weeks at Hopkins have been really great, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my classes and the experience of living in a dorm at college. Over the past two weeks, however, I’ve begun to notice something really unpleasant.

As you know, *** is not air-conditioned. This means that almost everyone living in the building has a fan, and most people have been leaving their windows open to try and cope with the heat. I live on the first floor of *** house, and as I sit at my desk attempting to do my homework, it’s very common for a large amount of cigarette smoke to be wafted into my window from the people smoking directly outside it. It gets to the point where the whole room stinks as if someone were smoking in it. I don’t smoke, and I try to avoid breathing in cigarette smoke as much as possible, because I feel it’s thoroughly unhealthy. Even though my roommate and I, and many other people on the first floor of *** are making healthy choices about smoking, we’re being subjected to breathing cigarette smoke against our will.

As a freshman, my small dorm room is the only truly private place that I have to go to here at Hopkins. I think it’s completely unfair that cigarette smoke is being forced upon me while I’m trying to get my work done. With this letter I am urging you to support a ban of smoking in the *** courtyard. I think it would be very reasonable to ask smokers to move [elsewhere] in respect for the other people living in the building. Dorm life is centered around respecting other people, and this ban would help us move one step closer to that achieving that respect.

I know that Hopkins is very supportive of leading a healthy life; please help to support a healthier campus by sparing us the experience of breathing in a bedroom filled with smoke. It will be a challenge to make the entirety of campus smoke free, but banning smoking in the courtyard is an important first step.

Thank you for your time,


The rights conflict...

3 conflicting rights

–Right of personal property
  • JHU's Homewood Campus is a privately owned and funded property. While students do pay tuition, is their choice to attend the university and are thus bound by it's regulations and policies.
–Right to smoke
  • The Public Health Institute's Technical Assistance Legal Center has published a statement that there is no constitutional right to smoke.

–Right to life/health

  • The right to life is fundamental to U.S. citizens. It is the responsibility of all citizens to not impede upon another's well-being. There is significant evidence that over 50,000 deaths of nonsmokers are attributed to secondhand smoke each year.

It is the opinion of Hopkins Kicks Butts that one’s right to life and health trumps another’s decision to smoke.

The Plan...

Goal: Smoke-free campus

Three Step Plan
1)Post signs on campus building entrances and ban all campus-sponsored events involving tobacco
2)Create smoking zones in parking lots
3)Completely smoke free

Step 1: Ensure that signs are posted on all building entrances; No smoking within 50* feet of building entrances; Ban all campus sponsored events that promote tobacco.

Step 2: Smoking zones will include all parking lots as long as the smoker is at least 50* feet away from a campus building entrances; There are over fifteen parking lots within campus borders. Smokers should not have a problem reaching one during this initial phase; Student exposure to secondhand smoke will be greatly reduced.

Step 3: Smoking prohibited everywhere within campus borders; Smoking inside of cars negotiable; No exposure to secondhand smoke on Homewood Campus.

*The 50 foot area was chosen at the time of the proposal writing based on discussions with currently practicing smoke-free universities. After further communications with other universities, and in light of new research, this number is being reevaluated to potentially drop to 25-30 feet.

A few hurdles...

What are the boundaries of the policy?

  • The main Homewood campus surrounded by gates.
  • Within 50* fifty feet of all Residence Halls and Apartments under the Housing office’s supervision.

How will students be notified of the policy change?

  • Flyer mailboxes and tables at dinning halls
  • Daily Announcements
  • Email
  • Big TV screens
  • Hold school-wide debate/forum
    –“Town hall meeting” to discuss the new policy and allow students to voice concerns or give suggestions about the proposed policy

Addressing additional challenges

  • Opposition: we are providing a systematic phase out of smoking, and we give people an opportunity to voice their concerns.
  • Implementation of policy: Campus Police, Peer-Policing, $15 fine
    *NOTE* Peer-policing involves non-confrontational enforcement from peers; approaching smokers on campus to remind them of the smoke-free policy and ask that they refrain from smoking. If any security notices smokers on campus, the fine is not mandated instantly. Smokers will be reminded of the policy, asked to refrain, and be provided with cessation resources. The $15 fine would only be incurred for failure to comply. After discussions with over 20 current smoke-free campuses following this enforcement pattern, none have ever had to resort to a fine as most smokers were willing to relocate or extinguish their tobacco product.
  • Awareness: Collaborate with PEEPS to do tobacco education, work with counseling center to develop quit-counseling group.

*The 50 foot area was chosen at the time of the proposal based on discussions with currently practicing smoke-free universities. After further communications with other universities, and in light of new research, this number is being reevaluated to drop to 25-30 feet.

We are not alone!

Examples of Successful Implementation

As of April 1, 2010:
–394 colleges are now completely 100% smoke-free.
–80 more smoke-free campuses with exceptions of remote outdoor areas.

Johns Hopkins Medical Campus’ successful enactment of smoke-free zones.


This blog is not meant to be a comprehensive alternative to the formal HKB Smoke-free Campus Policy Proposal. If you would like more information regarding data and research, or to request a copy of the formal proposal in its current state, please do not hesitate to contact HKB at We are more than happy to supply you with any supporting documentation and further explainations.