Frequently Asked Questions

How was the decision made to go smoke-free?

The initiative to become smoke-free was started by students several years ago.  The concept was voted on by the Student Senate, and was shared with the Faculty Senate and many groups and stakeholders from across the university.  Colleges and universities that had previously gone smoke-free, healthcare providers and community resources all provided input into this plan following best practice guidelines to ensure a smooth transition to a smoke-free environment.   On November 15, 2012 President Steven Knapp made a pledge to make all of GW’s campuses smoke-free  as part of the American Cancer Society’s 37th annual Great American Smokeout. Since making that announcement, GW’s smoke-free committee has engaged individuals and groups both on and off campus in the planning process over the past year.  

The university has had a non-smoking policy in place for 7 years prohibiting smoking in all academic, residential, athletic and recreational and administrative support facilities.  The purpose of the revised policy is to promote a smoke-free environment on our campuses, including in and on university owned outdoor spaces as well as certain public spaces adjacent to GW buildings, in addition to indoor space.

On August 1, 2013 GW will join more than 1000 other U.S. colleges and universities including other local universities,  American University and University of Maryland have made the decision to eliminate smoking campus-wide.  GW wants to promote a healthy university and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke exposure.  By going smoke-free, we can create an environment that makes it easier for those who either work or attend classes here to quit smoking.

How will the policy be implemented?

The launch of the new policy is August 1, 2013.  There will be a two-month transition period to allow members of the GW community to make a transition to the new policy and for the university to receive additional feedback on the implementation. Contact Us form

How will I know where people cannot smoke?

For more information on the smoke-free regulations at theses campuses, please see the smoke-free maps.

To whom does the policy apply?

All George Washington University students, faculty, staff and visitors are asked to adhere to the smoke-free policy while on GW property.

How will campus visitors know that GW is a smoke-free institution?

Signage about our smoke-free campus was installed on the grounds and in the buildings beginning in summer 2013. Members of the GW community may also alert campus visitors about this policy by sending them a link to the GW smoke-free website before their arrival.

How can I support the change?

The GW community can support this change by encouraging others not to smoke near GW buildings or GW outdoor areas.  The smoke-free policy contains information for how to report concerns you may have about violations of the policy.

What resources are currently available for smokers?

The university understands that it is hard to quit smoking and wants to support those trying to quit by offering the American Cancer Society’s Quit For Life Program.  It is available to all students, faculty, and staff, as well as spouses, and adult dependents age 18 and older. The university will cover the cost of the program and nicotine replacement therapy, including the patch or gum.  The Program assists people overcome their physical, psychological, and behavioral addiction to tobacco using a seamlessly integrated mix of medication support, phone-based cognitive behavioral coaching, web-based learning, and social support.  For more information about the Quit For Life® Program please go to the Smoking Cessation page.

I’ve tried to quit smoking before, but have not been successful.  Are there any things that can help me?

Quitting tobacco can be a long, difficult process. The Quit For Life® Program, brought to you by the American Cancer Society® provides up to six weeks of patch or gum and can be used multiple times if necessary.

What other universities are going smoke-free?

George Washington University will join more than 1000 other U.S. colleges and universities nationwide that have gone smoke or tobacco free.

Are E-Cigarettes also included in the policy?

Yes. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals.  They turn nicotine, which is highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that the products contained carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including the ingredients found in anti‐freeze.1  Beyond the risks to the user, after the user inhales, studies have shown that residual aerosol, or vapor, is exhaled into the surrounding air.2  It is likely that e-cigarettes emit nicotine, propylene glycol, carcinogens, and other substances.3

Does the smoke-free policy apply to events at GW’s recreational facilities, outdoor fields, and plazas and for events? 

Yes,  all events that take place on GW property, including tailgate gatherings and other outdoor events, fall under the smoke-free policy. Please reference the smoke-free maps, for further information.

Will the policy remain in effect on weekends?

Yes, the smoke-free policy is in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Does the policy include property the university leases?

No, the smoke-free policy only applies to buildings owned and occupied by GW.  For more information please see the policy.

What will be done with the ashtrays located around campus?

Ashtrays will be removed from campus because they are a receptacle for a product that will no longer be used on GW property.

How do I report an area that needs more signage?

If you notice an area that needs additional signage, please submit a request with detailed information on our Contact Us form.

What should I do if I see someone smoking?

The smoke-free policy is designed to encourage behavioral change and healthy lifestyles, not to punish those who smoke.  It is possible that a person smoking on the GW campus is unaware of the smoke-free policy.  While GW does not condone confrontation, if you see someone smoking on a GW campus after August  1, 2013, and you are comfortable in doing so, politely explain that GW is a smoke-free university and that smoking is prohibited on the campus. For scripts and talking points are designed to assist members of the GW community in supporting a Smoke-Free GW please go to the Supporting a Smoke-Free GW Page.

Will going smoke-free actually help people’s health?

Policies that restrict or ban smoking have a significant correlation to reducing the prevalence of smoking. In addition, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke causes an estimated 46,000 premature deaths. Nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent.

How can I show my support or get involved with Smoke-Free GW?

The “yellow dot” campaign is a way to visually show your support of a smoke-free GW and inspire others to quit smoking.  Showing your support of a Smoke-Free GW by painting the internet yellow sends a powerful message-that students, faculty, staff and community members are standing up to make a GW a healthier place to learn, work and live. For more information please go to the Yellow Dot Page.

If you would like to get involved with Smoke-Free GW please let us know on our Contact Us page



1. FDA Warns of Health Risks Posed by E-cigarettes. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2009, July) Retrieved 2/16/2010 from

2. Trtchounian, A., Williams, M., & Talbot, P. (July 19, 2010) Conventional and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have different smoking characteristics. Nicotine & Tobacco Research Advance Access. Doi:10.1093/ntr/ntq114

3. Henningfield, J.E., & Zaatari, G.S. (2010). Electronic nicotine delivery systems: Emerging science foundation for policy. Tobacco Control, 19(2), 89-90

Yellow Dot Campaign

Showing your support of a Smoke-Free GW and painting the internet yellow sends a powerful message-that students, faculty, staff and community members are standing up to make a GW a healthier place to learn, work and live.