Northern Illinois University provides and maintains an optimally healthy and safe working and living environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

In accordance with the Smoke-Free Campus Act, which prohibits smoking on all Illinois state-supported higher education institutions including public university and community college campuses, NIU became smoke-free on July 1, 2015.

A smoke-free campus can make an enormous impact on the life-long health of students, faculty, and staff that live, learn, and work at NIU. Experience shows that 100 percent smoke-free policies effectively reduce tobacco use by preventing initiation and making it easier for smokers to quit. Smoke-free college campus policies specifically decrease smoking rates and positive attitudes toward tobacco use.

College Students and Tobacco

  • 75.8 percent of NIU students have never used tobacco (NCHA, 2017).
  • 15.8 percent of NIU students reporting using tobacco in the last 30 days (NCHA, 2017).
  • Smoking kills. One out of every two smokers worldwide will die of a tobacco-related disease.
  • Every cigarette you smoke takes five and a half minutes off of your life.
  • Every six and a half seconds someone in the world dies from smoking—that’s 1.5 million people a year.
  • Most smokers (83 percent) regret starting smoking and say they wouldn’t smoke if they had the choice again.
  • If you smoke 20 cigarettes a day, nearly 10 ounces of tar will build up in your lungs over the course of a year.
  • Between 2017 and 2018, nicotine vaping increased in college students from 6.1 percent to 15.5 percent (NIH, 2018).
  • The vaping-related condition that has sickened hundreds of people has a new name: EVALI, or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury.
  • As of October 2019, nearly 1,300 lung injury cases associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products have been reported to the CDC. The CDC continues to recommend that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain nicotine.

Information to Consider for Health and Wellness

  • Cessation of smoking will reduce your risk of life-threatening diseases, allow you to have nicer smelling clothes, improve the air quality and your home and help you to be a better role model for family and friends.
  • In just 20 minutes after you quit smoking your circulation will improve and your blood pressure and heart rate will decrease. This immediately reduces your risk of a heart attack.
  • After eight hours of quitting smoking, the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in your blood go down and the oxygen level will rise.
  • After 48 hours of quitting smoking, the nicotine and carbon monoxide will have left your body. Your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.
  • After two to three months of quitting smoking, your lung capacity could increase by up to 30 percent.
  • After one year of quitting smoking, your chance of having a heart attack drops by half.
  • E-cigarette, or vaping, products should never be used by youths, young adults or women who are pregnant.
  • Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette or vaping products.
  • Symptoms of EVALI include shortness of breath, night sweats, low oxygen levels and hazy spots on a lung X-ray.
  • Due to secondhand smoke, people are at increased risk of ear infections, asthma, allergies, meningitis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Smoking damages blood vessels and can make them thicken and grow narrower. This makes your heart beat faster and your blood pressure go up.
  • If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.
  • Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant. It can also affect the baby’s health before and after birth.
  • Smoking can affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage. 



  • College students who use tobacco are shown to have lower GPA’s than those who do not use tobacco.
  • College students who smoke have higher rates of infections and asthma as well as a higher incidence of bacterial meningitis, especially among freshmen living in dorms. Having a serious health complication in college could prevent you from being able to perform your best in school.


  • Smoking costs the U.S. approximately $157.7 billion per year. A lifetime of heavy smoking can cost you more than $1 million personally.
  • Smoking causes diminished overall health, increased absenteeism from work and increased healthcare utilization and cost.


  • NIU Smoke-Free Campus Policy applies to all individuals on campus property and is applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cessation Resources

Tobacco Information


Why is NIU smoke free?

NIU wants to provide and maintain a healthy and safe working and living environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors, and a smoke-free campus is an optimal way to realize the health and safety benefits while reducing smoking-related litter throughout campus and complying with state law.

What was the process for implementing the Smoke Free Campus Act?

The NIU Smoke-Free Task Force was formed in Fall, 2014. Draft policy development and campus dialogues occurred through March 2015, and the final policy was posted in April 2015. Signage and other communications were in place before and after the law took effect on July 1, 2015.

How is the Smoke-Free NIU policy being communicated to campus groups and potential visitors?

Communications include but are not limited to:

  • Notification of policy to current and prospective students and employees through communication available on University websites;
  • Notification during the admission and enrollment process and/or during new hire orientation for faculty and staff;
  • Informational meetings, postings, and electronic notifications
  • Community discussions
  • Campus signage
  • Various print and digital media
  • Social media platforms
  • Communications to external organizations and entities
  • Contracts/Agreements
  • Media exposure on- and off-campus
I currently smoke. Does this mean I have to quit?

No. The University policy does not require people who smoke to quit smoking, but rather to refrain from smoking while on campus. The policy does not regulate personal choice regarding smoking while off-campus.

Why are e-cigarettes/vaping prohibited?

Both the University policy and the Illinois state law prohibit the use of e-cigarettes. The Illinois Smoke-Free Campus Act prohibits the use of products containing or delivering nicotine intended or expected for human consumption, with limited exception for tobacco use cessation products approved by the FDA. Electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine derived from tobacco, and have not been approved by the FDA. While they are not lighted in the combustible way that a traditional tobacco filled cigar or cigarette is, there is a heating mechanism inside that turns liquid nicotine into a vapor to be inhaled.

Are there designated smoking areas on campus?

No. By law, smoking is prohibited on all NIU controlled property, effective July 1, 2015. Establishing designated smoking areas is not allowed under the state law. Once outside the boundaries of University controlled properties, smoking is subject to local jurisdiction.

How is the policy enforced?

The campus community will collectively share the responsibility of enforcing the policy by respectfully letting others know about our Smoke-Free Campus.

Many of our classmates, friends, colleagues and visitors may not be aware of the policy. We all have a role in helping people comply. If you see someone smoking, please politely and respectfully let him/her know NIU is a smoke-free campus. If someone is hostile with you, do not escalate the situation. Simply walk away and contact NIU Police, at 815-753-1212, to inform them of the hostility.

What should I say to someone who is smoking on campus?

Consider saying: “As of July 1, 2015, smoking is prohibited on all campus property, both indoors and outdoors, and in university owned vehicles. The policy does not apply to smoking in privately owned vehicles parked on campus. The policy applies to everyone on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thank you for helping us to create a healthier environment in which to study, work and play.”

What are the policies for violating the policy?

Individuals who violate the policy will be subject to existing campus disciplinary measures as follows:

  • Students will be referred to Student Conduct. Infractions should be reported through the non-academic incident report form available at
  • Employees will be referred to the employee's supervisor or Human Resource Services as applicable. Infractions should be reported to the employee’s supervisor or to Human Resources Services at 812-753-6000 or
  • Contractors and subcontractors will be referred to the campus unit responsible for monitoring performance of the applicable contract.
  • Campus visitors may be asked to leave campus.


Fill out our form to ask us a question.

Back to top