Smoke-Free Campus CUMC FAQs


When did Columbia University Medical Center become a smoke-free campus?
Columbia University Medical Center’s Smoke-Free Policy went into effect on August 10, 2009. The policy prohibits smoking, lighting or carrying any form of lit tobacco or other substance, including vapor devices such as e-cigarettes, on all University and NewYork-Presbyterian property, both indoors and outdoors.


Why is Columbia University Medical Center a smoke-free campus?
As an academic medical center, CUMC is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy environment for our faculty, staff, students, and community. The use of tobacco is one of the leading preventable health risks worldwide. Allowing the use of tobacco on campus runs counter to our knowledge of the significant health risks, especially in light of Columbia’s role as an institution of higher education and as a healthcare provider and educator.


To whom does the Smoke-Free policy apply?
The smoke-free policy applies to anyone who is on CUMC/NYP property, including faculty, staff, students, clinicians, patients, visitors, volunteers, and vendors.


What resources are available for individuals looking to quit smoking?
If you are interested in quitting smoking or using tobacco, the University and NYP want to help! Smoking cessation information is available from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygienethe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and at CUMC students who are interested in quitting smoking are also encouraged to contact Student Health Service for additional information and resources.


Do I have to quit smoking or stop using tobacco to live/work/study at Columbia University Medical Center?
All faculty, staff, and students are welcome at Columbia University Medical Center, but personnel and students need to be aware that a smoke-free policy is in place and is one of many policies that are expected to be abided by. Members of the medical center community are encouraged to educate themselves about the Smoke-Free policy and to help protect the health and well-being of others.


What types of tobacco-related items are prohibited?
All types of tobacco are prohibited, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, all forms of smokeless tobacco, clove cigarettes, and any other smoking devices that use tobacco such as hookahs. Vapor devices, such as e-cigarettes, are also prohibited.


What areas of the medical center are covered by the Smoke-Free policy?
CUMC’s Smoke-Free policy applies to all CUMC and NYP properties, including on shuttle buses and in parking facilities. In addition to indoor space, the policy also includes University- and NYP-owned outdoor spaces—including in front of CUMC buildings and on the stairs—as well as public spaces adjacent to CUMC buildings.


What are some of the fire hazards associated with smoking?
Smoking materials (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Smoking can also become a fire hazard when individuals attempt to tamper with smoke alarms and smoke detectors or conceal smoking in smoke-free areas. For fire safety information and helpful tips, check out the Fire Department, City of New York's Smoking Fire Safety flyer.


How is the policy being communicated to members of the CUMC community as well as to patients and visitors?
Signage about the Smoke-Free campus is posted around the medical center as well as in the buildings. Supplemental information, including information on cessation, is available online.


How do members of the CUMC community report an area that needs additional and/or refreshed Smoke-Free signage?
If you notice an area that needs additional signage or an area where the current signage needs to be refreshed, please submit a request with detailed information via our online form.


How is the Smoke-Free policy being enforced?
The success of this policy depends upon the thoughtfulness, respect, and cooperation of everyone. Faculty staff and students share the responsibility of following and enforcing the policy. The medical center strives for voluntary compliance with limited disciplinary actions. For those found smoking in an on-campus residential apartment, a $250 fine per occurrence will be imposed on all who reside within the apartment.


One way to aid enforcement is to provide many options for cessation and support for those who choose to stop using tobacco. For scripts and talking points designed to help CUMC community members approach smokers, please contact the CUMC Smoke-Free Work Group.


If the campus has been smoke-free for six years, why are people still smoking on campus?
The Medical Center recognizes that the smoke-free initiative needed to be refreshed as we occasionally receive complaints regarding noncompliance with the policy. Several strategies are being employed to eliminate noncompliance, including updating the signage around the campus and providing materials for members of the CUMC community to use to educate others about the policy and the effects of smoking and tobacco use.


What do I do if I see someone smoking on the medical center campus?
If you see someone smoking on the medical center campus, kindly let them know of our policy. Please be sure to treat people with respect and professionalism as patients and visitors may be unaware of the medical center’s Smoke-Free policy. If someone becomes hostile or angry upon being approached, do not escalate the situation; simply walk away. 


Need Help? Contact Facilities Management

212-305-Help (4357), select 'Option 3'
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
All other times, call Public Safety at
305-8100 for routine matters or
305-7979 for an on-campus emergency.

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Facilities Operations

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Fax: (212) 305-1026

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