• Student Affairs Division

  • Tobacco-Free-Myths-Facts

    Myths and Facts

    MYTH: Tobacco use is an individual decision; a campus-wide ban won't change anyone's behavior

    FACT: Research indicates that tobacco-free policies on campus do reduce smoking rates. Further, such policies serve a preventative function by decreasing the likelihood of people starting the habit and by influencing light users to quit.

    MYTH: Habitual smoking is harmful, but it's fine to smoke every once in a while. 

    FACT: For almost a decade, the Surgeon General has reported that "any exposure to tobacco smoke—even an occasional cigarette or exposure to secondhand smoke—is harmful."

    MYTH: Smoking is bad for you, but vaping is harmless.

    FACT: Recent research indicates that use of e-cigarettes is associated with chronic bronchitis and may cause as much DNA damage as smoking unfiltered cigarettes.

    MYTH: Smoking helps reduce anxiety.

    FACT: Research indicates that smoking may increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders during adolescence and early adulthood. Authors of a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (McDermott et al., 2013) concludes: "The belief that smoking is stress relieving is pervasive, but almost certainly wrong. The reverse is true: smoking is probably anxiogenic (causes anxiety) and smokers deserve to know this and understand how their own experience may be misleading." There are healthier, less expensive, more effective ways of coping with stress.

    MYTH: The cost of smoking only affects smokers.

    FACT: Nicotine use takes a significant toll on the state of Minnesota. As reported in 2018, $2.51 billion was spent on smoking-related health care and $753 per household was taken out in taxes for smoking-related government expenditures.

    Regular cigarettes are wasteful, but e-cigarettes are environmentally friendly.

    FACT: Most e-cigarettes contain a lithium-ion battery and other components that are not easily recyclable and often end up in landfills. If e-cigarettes are discarded without being completely empty, the nicotine can seep out and pollute the surrounding area and groundwater.

    MYTH: Tobacco is fine so long as I'm not inhaling smoke.

    FACT: Using smokeless tobacco is just as addictive and dangerous as smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, "Overall, people who dip or chew get about the same amount of nicotine as regular smokers. They also get at least 30 chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

    MYTH: Tobacco use is a choice that adults consciously make.

    FACT: Tobacco use might feel like a choice, but it oftentimes isn't, especially for young adults. The tobacco industry has a history of targeting a younger demographic—in fact, 90 percent of smokers started smoking by age 18. And advertising is a powerful tool: tobacco companies have successfully targeted specific populations, including women, communities of color, and people of low socioeconomic means—oftentimes those with the least access to health and cessation resources.