Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
About RPI Academics Research Student Life Admissions News Tour
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Tobacco Use Policy
Tobacco Use Policy FAQs
Smoking Cessation Programs
More Resources
Campus Maps

Tobacco-Free Boundaries
East of Burdett Ave.

Tobacco-Free Boundaries
West of Burdett Ave.

Tobacco Use Policy FAQs
Updated: 7/20/10

The Policy

What is RPI’s tobacco use policy?
It is Rensselaer’s policy to provide a tobacco-free environment in all Institute facilities and outdoor areas. Tobacco Use is defined as the act of using any tobacco product in any Institute facility or outdoor area, including chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes (that involve the use of tobacco and tobacco products) and the act of smoking or carrying a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other smoking material or device.

Tobacco Use Policy

What is an Institute facility?
An Institute facility is defined as any facility or property that is owned, leased, used or occupied by Rensselaer, including but not limited to: private offices, lounges, dining areas, recreational facilities, residence halls, storage areas, service shops, garages, tunnels, sidewalks, facilities operations areas, athletic facilities, all institute vehicles (owned or leased), and personally owned and rented vehicles when used to transport Rensselaer faculty, staff or students on any Institute-related business, academic or student life activities.

Are outdoor areas covered by this policy?
Yes, outdoor areas are also covered by this policy including any Institute outdoor area that is open to access by the public or campus community, including but not limited to parking lots, sidewalks, athletic fields, lawn areas and any Institute facility entrance or egress.

Whom does the policy affect?
This policy applies to all students, employees, including faculty and staff, visitors, vendors, and members of the President’s Cabinet who are on property and facilities owned or operated by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Whom do I contact if I have additional questions about the policy?
Questions about the policy can be sent via e-mail to AskHR@rpi.edu. We will respond to inquiries in a timely manner.


Will there be designated smoking areas on campus?
Effective July 1, 2010, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a tobacco-free campus. There will be no designated smoking areas on campus.

How do smokers know what is not University property?
The Institute does not own the public sidewalks and streets that border and run through its campus. The approximate boundaries of the main campus are defined by Peoples Avenue, Federal Street, Hoosick Street (Route 7), Burdett Avenue, Detroit Avenue, College Avenue, Garnett Douglas Baltimore Way, Congress Street, Tibbits Avenue, Sage Avenue, Eaton Road, Sunset Terrace, 6th Avenue along with 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 14th, 15th, and 17th Streets. All Institute property within these streets is covered by the tobacco use policy, while the streets and sidewalks themselves are not. (See the maps to the left)

Is the East Campus Athletic Village tobacco-free?
Yes. The East Campus Athletic Village, both within the stadium and the Institute grounds surrounding the stadium, is within the campus boundaries and is designated as tobacco-free.

Are Institute parking ramps, parking structures and parking lots tobacco-free?
Yes. All parking structures and parking lots that are on Institute grounds are covered by the tobacco-free policy.

Cessation and Education Programs

Where can I receive assistance in quitting smoking?
Persons who want assistance can contact the New York State Smokers’ Quit Hotline by calling 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487). A free starter kit of Nicotine Patches, Gum or Lozenges is provided for eligible NYS smokers. Additional information is available online at http://www.nysmokefree.com/

Faculty, staff and their dependents who receive their health care coverage through Rensselaer should contact their health care provider for information and assistance. Students should contact the Student Health Center for information and assistance.

How should I respond if members of the Rensselaer community expresses interest in quitting smoking?
Support them in taking the first step toward quitting and let them know there are many free resources available to them through the Division of Human Resources Benefits Office for faculty and staff, and the Student Health Office for students. All members of the campus community can obtain information and assistance through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline Program or through their health care provider.

Will programs be offered to provide smokers with cessation support?
Rensselaer, in partnership with the Capital District Physician Health Plan and Samaritan Hospital, is offering smoking cessation classes for faculty, staff and students. Sessions will resume beginning in the fall semester.


How will people know that Rensselaer is a tobacco free campus?
The Tobacco Use Policy will be disseminated broadly to the university community with articles and advertisements placed in campus publications, notices in the Student Catalogue and Student Orientation Program, and other venues.


How will this policy be enforced?
The Institute’s primary goal is to achieve voluntary compliance with the tobacco-free policy by educating students, faculty, staff, and visitors about the policy and providing smoking cessation assistance to faculty, staff and students who seek it. However, enforcement is often necessary to aid in the adoption of a new policy. The Policy includes Enforcement Procedures, which provide for the use of progressive corrective actions for students, faculty, and staff.  The first offense will result in verbal counseling and education about the health effects of tobacco use; the second offense will result in a written warning; the third offense will result in a monetary fine or community service; and subsequent offenses will result in other appropriate disciplinary actions in accordance with the Student Handbook of Rights and Responsibilities for students and the Human Resources Policy Guidelines for faculty and staff.

Visitors who violate the policy will be informed that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a tobacco-free campus. Visitors who continue to violate the policy following a warning will be escorted off-campus.

What should I do if I see someone smoking on Rensselaer grounds?
Faculty, staff and students who see individuals smoking on Rensselaer grounds are asked to inform these individuals politely that Institute policy prohibits tobacco use anywhere on university grounds. Individuals who do not feel comfortable approaching someone violating the policy should contact their immediate supervisor or department head, for faculty and staff, and the Dean of Students Office for students. Individuals should not contact the Institute’s Department of Public Safety to report a violation of the policy. During this change, we ask that all members of the Rensselaer community treat each other with dignity and respect, support each other, and embrace a spirit of having a healthy living, learning, and working environment.


Don’t I have a right to smoke on campus?
No; there is no “right” to smoke under either state or federal law. In addition, prohibiting smoking and the use of tobacco products on campus preserves everyone’s right to breathe clean, smoke-free air while allowing adults who smoke and use tobacco products to continue to do so off-campus. This decision supports the rights and privileges of both smokers and non-smokers alike.

Faculty/Staff Concerns

How should managers/supervisors talk to employees about the policy?
It is recommended that managers/supervisors should inform all employees of this policy and seek their cooperation with compliance. Supervisors will be expected to communicate the Institute’s smoking cessation assistance opportunities to interested employees when they are available.

I supervise several employees who smoke. How will they manage under the new policy?
Should they choose to do so, employees may use their allotted meal and break periods to travel off-campus to smoke. However, employees will not be given additional meal or break time for smoking. Supervisors must be clear with employees on this matter.

Can I smoke in my personal car?
All parking structures and parking lots owned or operated by the Institute are covered by the tobacco-free policy.

What should managers/supervisors do if one of their employees violates the policy?
Violations of campus policy should be routed through the established progressive discipline process.

Page updated: 12/17/10, 6:59 PM
Copyright ©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)  110 Eighth Street, Troy, NY USA 12180  (518) 276-6000  All rights reserved.
Why not change the world?® is a registered trademark of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Site design and production by the Rensselaer Division of Strategic Communications & External Relations