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SFSU: A smoke-free campus

July 30, 2004

Dear SFSU Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce that San Francisco State University has just taken another major step in our ongoing efforts to provide a safe and healthful environment for all members of our community. On August 23, 2004, we will become a smoke-free campus. With the exception of a few small, designated areas, smoking will be prohibited on all University-owned or leased property.

We have been moving in this direction for some time. The previous University policy prohibited smoking within 30 feet of a campus building. Given our compact campus, that actually left few legal opportunities for smokers. In addition, the Bookstore Board of Directors chose in 2003 to end the sale of tobacco products. Last spring, the Academic Senate took up the issue. In a very progressive action, "in the interests of the health and well being of non-smokers and smokers alike," the Senate passed a resolution calling for SFSU to become a smoke-free campus with designated smoking areas –- exactly what the new policy provides. (You can read the complete policy at

With this policy, our hope is to protect all who live, work, study or visit the campus from a major health concern: secondhand smoke. In a 1996 report, the U.S. Surgeon General called this "involuntary smoking" –- a term that suggests its real seriousness. The report concluded that involuntary smoking causes disease, including lung cancer, in healthy nonsmokers. Both mainstream smoke -- smoke that is exhaled into the air by smokers, and sidestream smoke -- smoke that comes directly from the burning tobacco in cigarettes -- contain the same harmful chemicals as the smoke that smokers inhale. In fact, because sidestream smoke is formed at lower temperatures, it gives off even larger amounts of some cancer-causing substances. The Surgeon General also found that the simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same air space may reduce, but does not eliminate, the exposure of nonsmokers to environmental tobacco smoke.

The designated smoking areas are easily reachable but separated from main campus traffic and are clearly marked. They include: a 19th Ave. site in front of HSS; the sidewalk behind the Franciscan Building on Holloway Ave.; the sidewalk at the entrance to Village Parking, on Font; the sidewalk at the Lake Merced Blvd./Winston intersection; a site behind the Corp Yard building; a site atop Lot 20, and a site in the southeast section of the Cox Stadium stands. (These sites, marked on a campus map, can be viewed at I would hope that over time smoking on campus will diminish naturally and we will be able to reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the designated smoking spots.

Some will ask why the Academic Senate recommended, and the policy establishes, any smoking areas at all. The choice is both pragmatic and principled. Denying those who smoke any outlet is likely to prove counterproductive and prompt both resentment and violation of the policy. Further, mutual respect, a cornerstone of our campus values, leads us to seek a solution that addresses the concerns of all involved.

I hope that spirit will be reflected across campus as we bring the policy to life. It is respect –- for each other and for the shared rules of our community -- that will make the policy work as it is intended to do.

Keeping our air smoke-free is a major step. However, the University now has an opportunity to do much more. We can actively promote health. I strongly support the Senate’s call for the University to "support and develop education and health resources" to increase awareness of the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, to help those who would like to quit, succeed in that effort, and to work against the powerful and growing wave of tobacco advertising. Look for these efforts in the coming year.

In the meanwhile, I invite your cooperation and your commitment to an effort that will benefit us all.

-- Robert A. Corrigan, president



San Francisco State University

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Last modified October 1, 2004 by the Office of Public Affairs & Publications