About Tobacco Policy and Research



  • Cigarettes are delivery systems for the addictive substance nicotine, and the tobacco industry ensures that cigarettes continue to contain enough nicotine to cause addiction.
  • Chewing tobacco is more addictive than smoking it.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today.
  • Smoking was responsible for one in five deaths in the United States in 2005.
  • Just three to five cigarettes per day results in demonstrated increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
  • Lung cancer has, in general, a linear dose-response relationship with smoking.
  • Even small exposure to cigarette smoke can increase platelet aggregation (leading to clots, which cause heart attacks and strokes) and can induce arterial and hemodynamic changes.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke can lead to asthma and other respiratory conditions.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen (proven to cause cancer in humans).
  • Even people who quit after decades of smoking improve their health and life expectancy. Not smoking extends life, including disability-free life, and compresses disability into a shorter period of life.
  • The current average cost for a pack of cigarettes in NYS is over $7.  If someone smokes one pack a day, that is a cost per year of close to $3,000 that could be spent on something else or saved.
  • Smoking has an effect on the poor similar to a regressive tax through the cost of cigarettes themselves, the cost of increased health problems, and decreased earning time due to more workplace absences and earlier death.
  • Smokers in a workplace that prohibits smoking inside but not outside expend time by having to take breaks to go outside.
  • Smokers who want to quit are disadvantaged by seeing other people smoking or having opportunities to smoke.
  • There have been no documented beneficial effects from tobacco use.

NYC and United States Facts

  • In NYC, 15.8 percent of the population smokes, less than most people think.
  • NYC has a top priority goal of reducing this to 12 percent by 2012.
  • Smoking has decreased in NYC from 22 percent in 1993 to 16 percent in 2008 (see graph below). Decreases appear to be due to increased taxes, creation of smoke-free workplaces, and counter-advertising.

Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

  • NYC high school students' smoking has been consistently decreasing (63 percent between 1997 and 2007), and in 2007 was down to 8.5 percent (although high school students think it's higher than that).
  • Young adults (19-24 years) overestimate by 20 percent the percentage of their peers who smoke.
  • Since 2005 smoking has been banned on all NYC DOE property, including teacher lounges and outside areas, and teachers are urged not to smoke within sight of a school.
  • Smoking is currently banned in most NYC health care facilities and city jails.
  • Smoking is now prohibited in some NYC apartment buildings. 
  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is now encouraging public housing agencies to ban smoking in some or all of its units, and 50 public housing agencies have done this so far.
  • In NYS a 2006 court decision found that tenants had the right to break a lease because the landlord failed to safeguard an apartment from secondhand smoke.
  • At least 19 states (including NY) have now banned smoking in prisons, though 40-50 percent of prisoners smoke. Smoking is also banned in all federal prisons.
  • Smoking is banned on all airplanes, including flights lasting more than 12 hours.
  • The first college in the U.S. to be tobacco free was Ozarks Technical Community College in 2003. Since that time they have established a Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Campus Policy and have helped many other institutions of higher education to become tobacco free (see www.otc.edu/tobaccofree).
  • As of July 2010, there are 420 U.S. colleges and universities that have instituted 100 percent smoke-free policies, and the number is growing rapidly.
  • Both Arkansas and Iowa have instituted state-wide laws to ban smoking everywhere on campuses of institutions of higher education.

CUNY Facts

  • Current policy: Smoking banned inside facilities but not outdoors.
  • However, at least one campus, Kingsborough Community College, has instituted a perimeter policy.
  • If CUNY employees smoke at the rate of NYC residents, then about 5,000 are current smokers.
  • A 2008 survey of a sample of 1,577 students at Hunter College, Hostos Community College, and Medgar Evers College found that 9 percent reported being current smokers, suggesting that a total of about 24,000 CUNY students in credit-bearing classes smoke.
  • Therefore about 30,000 total CUNY students and staff currently smoke.

Tobacco-Free Facts

  • When smoking was banned in NYC restaurants and bars, some people predicted significant decreases in business for those establishments, but that did not happen.
  • When smoking was banned in jails, riots were predicted, but that did not happen.
  • A research review found no negative effects for smokers from smoking bans, even in mental health facilities.
  • Campuses have had tobacco-use restriction policies for decades.
  • It is better to be tobacco-free versus smoke-free because litter remains associated with the former; the former remains a health hazard; and the tobacco industry is developing new, appealing products to increase use of the former.
  • Designated perimeter policies do not work.  They can become extremely complex due to having to take into account outside gathering and seating areas (e.g., stadiums), and they are very difficult to enforce.
  • Studies show that smoking bans contribute to decreasing the numbers of cigarettes smoked and to more smokers quitting. In fact, a workplace prohibition is one of the most effective methods of increasing quitting.
  • A 2001 survey of 11,000 students at more than 100 campuses across the country found that 75 percent of them favored smoke-free policies.
  • A 2009 Quinnipiac University poll of 1,513 NYC voters found that 52 percent (vs. 43 percent) favored banning smoking in city parks and beaches (the spread was 56 percent vs. 39 percent among Democrats and 44 percent vs. 52 percent in Republicans).
  • A survey of 1,000 New Yorkers showed that 58 percent would pay more to live in smoke-free housing.
  • Of Americans who smoke, 70 percent report wanting to quit.



CUNY's current policy was enacted via resolution at the Board of Trustees meeting of September 29, 1994.

WHEREAS, As the largest urban university in the country, The City University is committed to promoting the health and well-being of its faculty, students and staff; and

WHEREAS. The health hazards of tobacco use are well-documented and directly linked to the death of an estimated 390,000 Americans a year; and

WHEREAS, exposure to environmental tobacco smoke has been associated with the occurrence of many diseases, such as lung cancer and heart disease in nonsmokers and low birthrate in the offspring of nonsmokers; and

WHEREAS, Environmental tobacco smoke represents one of the strongest sources of indoor air contaminants in buildings where smoking is permitted; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, That smoking is prohibited inside all facilities owned, leased, or operated by The City University of New York, effective January 1, 1995.

EXPLANATION: This policy will further strengthen the current Smoking Policy of The City University of New York, approved by the Council of Presidents at its meeting of May 7, 1990, which prohibited smoking in over ninety percent of the space in campus buildings, including classrooms, auditoriums, elevators, hallways, restrooms and other common areas. The significant health hazards associated with tobacco smoke for both smokers and non-smokers alike clearly indicates the necessity of creating a University smoke-free environment.



Mayor Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Farley Announce $31 Million in Stimulus Funds to Build on City Efforts to Prevent Chronic Diseases

This press release describes funding received through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative. Part of the funding "will reinforce the City's hard-hitting media campaigns that motivate smokers to quit, help strengthen the efforts of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free City and expand cessation services for populations with high smoking rates, including young adults, low-income New Yorkers and people with mental health and substance abuse disorders." CUNY is one of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's partners in this project.

Take Care New York 2012: A Policy for a Healthier New York City

Take Care New York is "a comprehensive health policy that serves as the organizing principle for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's plans to help all New Yorkers live longer and healthier lives." Take Care New York 2012 has established "an action plan for individuals and families, health care providers, community organizations, businesses and government to make New York City healthier." Part of this policy/action plan focuses on reducing the numbers of adults who currently smoke, reducing the education-level disparities among smokers, reducing the number of high-school students who smoke, and reducing the number of deaths from smoking-related illnesses.

The Dangers of Smoking

From the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: "Smoking kills. It's as simple as that. But, if you need more help making up your mind, here are some alarming facts about smoking that you may not have known."

Quit Smoking Programs in New York City

From the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Free or low-cost services to help people quit, including nicotine replacement therapy, counseling, and other resources, are available to smokers who want to quit throughout New York City. To find the location nearest you, see this site or call 311.

Tobacco Free NYS

A project of the American Lung Association in New York (ALA), this site provides information on entryway smoking bans, outdoor tobacco use policies, smoke free housing, NYS tobacco regulations, other NYS initiatives, and more.

"At Meeting a Deluge of Research on New York"

This New York Times article describes recent research grounded in New York City, including smoking-related research.

"City Wants a Smoking Ban on Beaches"

This New York Times article describes a proposed law that would prohibit smoking in New York City's "1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities, and 14 miles of city beaches, as well as boardwalks, public marinas and the public pedestrian malls and plazas." The article includes a mention of research showing "That someone seated within three feet of a smoker - even in the open air - was exposed to roughly the same levels of secondhand smoke as someone sitting indoors in the same situation."

"The Holdouts"

This New York Times article profiles smokers in New York City.



U.S. Colleges and Universities with Smokefree Air Policies <pdf>

This document lists 420 U.S. colleges and universities that maintain smokefree campuses. There is also a list of more than 75 smokefree campuses that allow "minor exemptions for remote outdoor areas."

Colleges and Universities with 100% Tobacco-Free Campus Policies <pdf>

This document includes 249 colleges and universities that prohibit not only smoking, but also all forms of tobacco use everywhere on campus.

American College Health Association (ACHA) Position Statement on Tobacco on College and University Campuses <pdf>

This position statement reflects and viewpoint of the ACHA and serves as a guide "to assist colleges and universities with evaluating progress toward becoming or maintaining tobacco-free living and learning environments that support the achievement of personal and academic goals."

Center of Excellence for Tobacco-Free Campus Policy, Ozarks Technical Community College

Provides resources and consultations on tobacco-free campus policy for colleges and universities.

Colleges For Change

"The Colleges for Change Program is grant funded by the New York State Department of Health Tobacco Control Program. Seven Colleges for Change grants have been funded statewide. The grant has been designed to engage young leaders to work on and off college campuses to limit where and how tobacco products are promoted, advertised and sold, and to advance local and statewide policies to create communities that support and reinforce tobacco-free norms."

Tobacco-Free College Website (American Lung Association in Oregon)

"This website has been produced as part of the Oregon Tobacco-Free College Initiative, coordinated by the American Lung Association of Oregon in partnership with the Oregon Tobacco Prevention and Education Program at the Oregon Public Health Division, county health departments, and other organizations concerned about college health and student success. Together we are showing college leaders how tobacco-free campus policies are a win-win for the fiscal bottom line as well as for student health and success, and campus accessibility."

"Ifs, Ands and Butts"

This article on the InsideHigherEd.com website spotlights "the difficulties colleges across the country have had maintaining all-out [smoking] bans and ensuring absolute compliance." Institutions mentioned include Boise State University, Grand Rapids Community College, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Colleges Move to Ban Smoking on Campus

This article notes that increasing numbers of colleges across the country are enacting smoke-free policies and discusses enforcement challenges. It generated a large number of responses in its comments section.

"No Smoking on Campus: More Schools Ban Tobacco Products"

This article focuses on a tobacco-free policy that was scheduled for implementation at the University of Florida on July 1, 2010. It presents this policy as part of a nationwide trend.



This list directs CUNY students, faculty and staff to more scientific and technical resources on the effects of secondhand smoke, tobacco policy, and related issues.

American Legacy Foundation. Smoker Free Workplace Policies.  http://www.legacyforhealth.org/PDF/Smoker_Free_Workplaces.pdf <pdf>

Becomeanex. A free group that supports ex-smokers (site includes a Spanish-language section). http://www.becomeanex.org /

Borland R, Chapman S, Owen N, Hill D. Effects of workplace smoking bans on cigarette consumption. Am J Public Health. 1990; 80(2): 178-80.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Economic Costs—United States, 1995–1999. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002; 51(14): 300-03. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5114a2.htm.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-attributable mortality estimates based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Adult SAMMEC (Smoking-attributable Mortality, Morbidity and Economic Costs) program. (This online application allows you to estimate the health and health-related economic consequences of smoking to adults and infants.) http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/sammec/

Chang C, Leighton J, Mostashari F, McCord C, Frieden T. The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act: second-hand smoke as a worker health and safety issue. Am J Ind Med. 2004; 46(2): 188-95.

Fahs, M. Summary brief on economic costs of smoking <pdf>. 2010.

Freudenberg N, Olden K. Finding synergy: reducing disparities in health by modifying multiple determinants. Am J Public Health. 2010; 100(Suppl 1): S25–30.

Frieden TR, Mostashari F, Kerker BD, et al. Adult tobacco use levels after intensive tobacco control measures: New York City, 2002–2003. Am J Public Health. 2005; 95(6): 1016–23.

Greenberg, J. Using socially fair treatment to promote acceptance of a Work Site Smoking Ban. J Appl Psychol. 1994; 79(2): 288-97.

Hamer M, Stamatakis E, Batty GD. Objectively assessed secondhand smoke exposure and mental health in adults: Cross-sectional and prospective evidence from the Scottish Health Survey. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67(8):850-55.

HHS announces new tobacco strategy and proposed new warnings and graphics for cigarette packs and advertisements. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2010 Nov 10.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), "IARC Monographs Programme Finds Smokeless Tobacco Is Carcinogenic to Humans." 2004 Nov 16.

Kaufman P, Griffin K, Cohen J, Perkins N, Ferrence R. Smoking in urban outdoor public places: Behaviour, experiences, and implications for public health. Health Place. 2010 Jun 8. [Epub ahead of print]

Klepeis NE, Ott WR, Switzer P. Real-time measurement of outdoor tobacco smoke particles. J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2007; 57(5): 522-34.

Lichtenstein E, Zhu SH, Tedeschi GJ. Smoking cessation quitlines: an underrecognized intervention success story. Am Psychol. 2010; 65(4): 252-61.

Mostashari F, Kerker BD, Hajat A, Miller N, Frieden TR. Smoking practices in New York City: the use of a population-based survey to guide policy-making and programming. J Urban Health. 2005; 82(1): 58-70.

Northridge ME, Morabia A, Ganz ML, Bassett MT, Gemson D, Andrews H, McCord C.  Contribution of smoking to excess mortality in Harlem. Am J Epidemiol. 1998; 147(3): 250-58.

Olden K, Ramos RM, Freudenberg N. To reduce urban disparities in health, strengthen and enforce equitably environmental and consumer laws. J Urban Health. 2009; 86(6): 819–24.

Park A. How secondhand cigarette smoke changes your genes. TIME. 2010 Aug 20.

Piano MR, Benowitz NL, Fitzgerald GA, Corbridge S, Heath J, Hahn E, Pechacek TF, Howard G. Impact of smokeless tobacco products on cardiovascular disease: Implications for policy, prevention, and treatment. Circulation. 2010 Sep 13.

Repace J. Respirable particles and carcinogens in the air of Delaware hospitality venues before and after a smoking ban. J Occup Environ Med. 2004; 46(9): 887-905.

Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program. See especially section on Tobacco Related Exposures (Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Smokeless Tobacco, and Tobacco Smoking).

Rigotti N, Regan S, Moran S, Wechsler H. Students' opinion of tobacco control policies recommended for US colleges: a national survey. Tob Control. 2003; 12(3): 251–56.

Sheffer C, Stitzer M, Wheeler JG. Smoke-free medical facility campus legislation: support, resistance, difficulties and cost. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2009; 6(1): 246-258.

Shields M. Smoking bans: influence on smoking prevalence. Health Rep. 2007; 18(3):9-24.

Summers C, Cohen L, Havusha A, Sliger F, Farley T. Take Care New York 2012: A Policy for a Healthier New York City. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2009. Available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/tcny/tcny-2012.pdf <pdf>.

Thomson G, Wilson N, Edwards R. At the frontier of tobacco control: a brief review of public attitudes toward smoke-free outdoor places. Nicotine Tob Res. 2009; 11(6): 584-90.

US Surgeon General. The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke : a report of the Surgeon General. – [Atlanta, Ga.] : U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, [2006]. Available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/secondhandsmoke/.

US Surgeon General. How tobacco smoke causes disease: the biology and behavioral basis for smoking-attributable disease. – [Rockville, Md.] : U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General, [2010]. Available at http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/tobaccosmoke/index.html.

Wilson KM, Klein JD, Blumkin AK, Gottlieb M, Winickoff JP, Tobacco-smoke exposure in children who live in multiunit housing, [published online ahead of print]. Pediatrics. doi:10.1542/peds. 2010-2046.