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Ryan Piurek
Director, news and media

Last modified: Friday, August 17, 2012

Tobacco-free Indiana, tobacco-free IU

Aug. 17, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new state law that was enforced starting July 1, 2012, states that nearly all public places in Indiana -- including university campuses, restaurants and other workplaces -- will be smoke free. This change came as the result of Indiana's first statewide smoke-free-air law, House Enrolled Act 1149.


While Indiana University has had a tobacco-free policy since Jan. 1, 2008, when all IU campuses enacted individually tailored policies providing for a smoke- or tobacco-free campus, the new law makes smoking in IU facilities or within 8 feet of an entrance an illegal or citable offense. The IU Police Department will support efforts by IU campuses to maintain a smoke-free environment.

"We are obligated under the state law to do certain things, such as place signs about the ban, communicate about the law to our campus communities and cite violators." said Mark Bruhn, IU's associate vice president for public safety and institutional assurance. Warnings were issued beginning July 1, followed by the citations issued for violation of the public smoking ban. "We will also be taking this opportunity to increase awareness and reinvigorate enforcement of the IU tobacco policy on all of IU's properties as well."

IU already has numerous resources to support students, staff and faculty in smoking cessation efforts on all IU campuses. Learn more about student smoking cessation resources by campus and about IU employee programs for smoking cessation.

The purpose of the Indiana Smoke Free Air Law is to protect Hoosiers from the harmful effects of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances, including 200 known poisons and 43 cancer-causing agents. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a cause of cancer in humans.

The state law specifies that smoking is prohibited in the following places:

  • Most places of employment.
  • Most public places.
  • Restaurants.
  • The area within 8 feet of a public entrance to a public place or a place of employment.
  • Any vehicle owned, leased or operated by the state if the vehicle is being used for a governmental function.

An IU study published in 2011 in the journal Preventive Medicine, "The effect of a smoke-free campus policy on college students' smoking behaviors and attitudes," found that not only did student smoking rates drop after the campuswide smoking ban was implemented, but those who continued smoking consumed fewer cigarettes.

The study was conducted by Dong-Chul Seo, associate professor in IU's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, with co-authors Jonathan T. Macy, Interim Dean of HPER Mohammad R. Torabi and Susan E. Middlestadt, all from the Department of Applied Health Science in IU's School of HPER. The study was the first published report to evaluate the impact of smoke-free-campus policies on student smoking.

"Although we haven't pinpointed which element of the campuswide smoke-free-air policy contributed the most to the positive changes in students' smoking rates, having such a policy in place does appear to influence students' smoking-related norms and behaviors even without strong enforcement of the policy," Seo said. "These results are encouraging for university administrators considering stronger tobacco control policies."

The researchers chose to study students at Purdue University and Indiana University Bloomington because of the numerous demographic similarities between the students at each campus and because West Lafayette and Bloomington both had comprehensive citywide smoke-free-air policies during the two-year study, which ended in 2009.

"We would rather our officers not be consumed by enforcing the smoking ban," said Jerry Minger, IU's director of public safety. "We would very much appreciate the cooperation of all of our students, faculty and staff in adhering to this new law and IU's policy, and even in reminding those around them, so we can concentrate on other safety programs and activities."