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The George Washington University Pledges to Be Smoke-Free in 2013

change is in the air logo
November 15, 2012

MEDIA CONTACTS: Michelle Sherrard
202-994-1423; [email protected]
Candace Smith
202-994-3566; [email protected]


WASHINGTON—The George Washington University has set a goal to make all its campuses in the District and Virginia smoke-free in fall 2013. George Washington President Steven Knapp made the pledge today, coinciding with the American Cancer Society’s 37th annual Great American Smokeout. By announcing its intent to go smoke-free, GW will join more than 800 colleges and universities nationwide that have banned smoking on their campuses.

“The George Washington University is committed to ensuring the public health of its community,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “With prominent schools of medicine, public health and nursing, and with a student body that is passionate about these issues, we are taking steps now make our campuses smoke-free by next year.”

George Washington students, faculty and staff will work together in the upcoming year to determine specifics of the smoke-free policy, including signage, smoking cessation programs, education and enforcement. District law allows property owners to prohibit smoking 25 feet from its buildings. The university currently promotes a smoke-free environment by prohibiting smoking in all academic, athletic and recreational and administrative support facilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one in five deaths, each year in the United States. Eighty percent of smokers begin smoking by age 18 and nearly 100 percent begin smoking by age 26. In September 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced its Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning across the country.

“We know that smoking is one of the most dangerous things we can do in terms of our health,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS). “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.”

George Washington University SPHHS students and members of Colonials for Clean Air, a student-led advocacy initiative for a smoke-free policy, have led efforts to promote a healthy university and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke exposure.

“GW going smoke-free is important because a smoke-free environment provides clean air for everyone in our community and significantly decreases poor health outcomes related to smoking and second-hand smoke exposure,” said Julien Guttman, SPHHS student and member of Colonials for Clean Air.

Currently, George Washington offers several university-paid, tobacco cessation programs to students, faculty, staff and family members. On Oct. 1, GW began offering faculty and staff telephonic coaching and up to eight weeks of over the counter nicotine replacement therapy at no cost. Additional information is available by calling GW's Quit Line at 202-994-QUIT or online at

In the heart of the nation's capital with additional programs in Virginia, the George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study, as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and more than 130 countries.

 For more information on GW’s goal to be smoke free, visit