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Evidence and Data

Please see SXU's Tobacco-Free Task Force Report (PDF) for a full discussion of the scientific evidence (including citations) pertaining to the health and environmental dangers of tobacco use. Below is a selection of some of the issues the Task Force researched and discussed:

Tobacco Exposure

The negative health effects of tobacco use have been well documented since the original Surgeon General's report in 1964. Cigarette smoking has been proven to negatively affect a person's health, no matter what the type or level of exposure.

  1. Firsthand smoke (Active Smoking): Active smoking has now been linked to twelve separate cancers, as well as numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, and a general decrease in immune function.
  2. Secondhand smoke (Passive Smoking): The involuntary inhalation of tobacco smoke by nonsmokers has been linked to adverse health outcomes for over 40 years. A 2012 report estimated that 7,330 lung cancer deaths and 33,950 deaths from heart disease were attributable to secondhand smoke annually. Children, who are more likely to be affected by secondhand smoke due to their inability to voluntarily leave a space where they are being exposed, have been shown to have an increased risk of asthma, chronic cough, pneumonia, and ear infections. Simply put: Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke.
  3. Thirdhand smoke: The newest area of tobacco research is thirdhand smoke, or the accumulation of secondhand smoke on environmental surfaces that ages with time, becoming progressively more toxic. Thirdhand smoke is not just the odor that emanates from a smoker's clothes, car, or home, it has now been found to contain just toxic substances as hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, butane, ammonia, and arsenic.

Environmental Impacts


  • Multiple litter studies have shown that when counting litter on a per-item basis, cigarette butts are the number one littered item on U.S. roadways and waterways.
  • When the remnants of smoked cigarettes and chewing tobacco are discarded in public areas, some of this tobacco waste is carried as runoff into drains, making its way into rivers and ultimately to the oceans, Great Lakes, and beaches.
  • Smoking on campus consumes valuable staff time picking up cigarette butts and emptying ashtrays.

Fire Hazard

  • Cigarette butts can start fires in planting areas, trash receptacles and even cigarette receptacles. Public Safety was dispatched to two smoldering fires in garbage cans during the Fall 2014 semester alone. These fires were linked to the use of tobacco products outside of SXU buildings.

Workplace Costs

Tobacco use in the workplace has been studied repeatedly and found to negatively affect productivity at work, increase the amount of sick leave used and increase health care and life insurance costs.

Workplace Efficiency

Tobacco use in the workplace leads to an increase of used sick leave and less productive time at work.

  • Employees who use tobacco are more likely to use three times more sick leave than their non-tobacco using co-workers.
  • Tobacco use while at work results in an average of one month per year of unproductive time at work. Over half of productivity costs are due to unproductive time at work.

Health Care Costs

  • Health care costs for smokers are 40% higher than non-smokers.
  • Life insurance costs for tobacco users are higher than non-users.