Cuesta College is committed to fostering a culture of health & well-being on our campus. To ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors, we encourage you to respect and apply our policies.
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Why did we choose to go tobacco free?

History Behind the New Policy:

Beginning January 1, 2019, Cuesta College officially became a smoke and tobacco-free District.

“Tobacco use – of all types – is bad for the user, those around them, and our environment; banning smoking at Cuesta College aligns with the college’s goal to promote the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Cuesta College Nutrition Instructor and task force member Cherie Moore.

The process to become tobacco-free began in 2016 when Cuesta College was awarded a $7,500 Tobacco-Free Campus Grant funded by Truth Initiative®, America’s largest non-profit health organization dedicated to eliminating the use of tobacco. The Tobacco-Free Task Force – comprised of faculty, staff, and students – was launched and began researching and discussing best practices and potential policies.

“After talking to our students, staff and faculty, we developed a policy that will restrict smoking any sort of tobacco product on all District property and locations where the District provides services,” said Moore. “The official policy was approved by the college’s Board of Trustees in December of 2017, allowing us to transform the college into a healthier learning and working environment for all who step foot onto campus.”

In addition, the 2018 College and University Smoke/Tobacco-Free Report Card was recently released, and Cuesta College received an A+ grade. The report found that while all of California's public four-year universities are 100% smoke and tobacco-free, less than half (46%) of California's community colleges are.


Decreasing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 50,000 nonsmokers each year.
  • The EPA classifies second hand smoke as a Group A carcinogen- cancer causing substance. Group A is the most dangerous.
  • The California Air Resources Board has categorized secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant, in the same category as diesel exhaust.
  • Most recently, the Surgeon General of the United States concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and that establishing smoke-free environments is the only proven way to prevent exposure.

 Quitting vaping can help lower stress and anxiety

Protecting Workers Not Protected by State Law

More than 90 percent of Californians approve of a law to protect workers from secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Yet people who work on campus are still unprotected from secondhand smoke throughout the day.


Eliminating Tobacco Litter on Campus

  • Cigarette butts are the most littered items in the world. -Sierra Club
  • Cigarette waste is poisonous to our environment. The filter of a cigarette is designed to trap the toxic chemicals in the tobacco smoke from entering into the smoker’s body. The filter, when wet, releases the thousands of toxic chemicals back into the environment. These filters and chemicals are washed into waterways by storm water runoff.
  • Cigarette butts are plastic, and not biodegradable.
  • By eliminating tobacco litter, colleges decrease the cost and time of cleaning up tobacco litter, increase campus beautification, and decrease fire risk on campus.


Changing Tobacco Use Behavior

  • Tobacco use policies (e.g., smoke-free policies) have been found to change tobacco use behavior in workplaces.
  • A study published in the British Medical Journal (2002) concluded that tobacco users who worked in a completely smoke-free environment were more likely to quit using tobacco than workers in areas without strong smoke-free policies. Additionally, individuals working in smoke-free environments were more likely smoke fewer cigarettes per day.
  • Smoke-free campus policies have been proven to decrease smoking prevalence in students, to decrease the number of cigarettes used by those who smoke, and to increase favorable attitudes toward regulation of tobacco. These policies influence students’ perceptions about peer smoking (i.e. social norms). Students become less convinced that other students are tobacco users and are less likely to use tobacco based on misperceptions about a high smoking prevalence among their peers.

 take 5 minutes to sit and breathe

  Encouraging Students Not to Start Smoking

  • Historically, most tobacco users started smoking or using smokeless tobacco before the age of 18. During the last 20 years, this pattern of new addiction has been changing. A recent study found one-fifth of smokers reported starting after the age of 18. Among individuals who started using tobacco before 18, regular or daily smoking was not established until the ages of 20 or 21.
  • Internal tobacco industry documents support this belief and argue the transition from experimentation to a “confirmed” smoker can occur up to the age of 25. The college years have been identified as a time of increased risk for smoking initiation and transition into regular tobacco use.
  • As students graduate, they will be transitioning into tobacco-free environments. In California, the majority of hospitals and K-12 campuses are 100 percent smoke free or tobacco free.
  • Nationwide, worksites, college campuses, health care centers and outdoor recreational facilities are adopting comprehensive tobacco use policies.

Quitting smoking can help lower stress and anxiety


  • I want to quit. What resources are available to me?

The college has also partnered with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department to offer free smoking cessation courses. For more information, email 

Visit our Health Center Resources Page: Quit smoking or stop by the Student Health Center for more information.

San Luis Obispo: Building: 3100 Room: 3150 Phone: (805) 546-3171

NC Paso Robles: Building: 1000 Room: 1013 Phone: (805) 591-6200 ext. 4207



  • What does “smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free” mean?

"Smoking" means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, cigarillo, or pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco or plant product intended for human inhalation, including hookahs and marijuana, whether natural or synthetic, in any manner or in any form. "Smoking" also includes the use of an electronic smoking device, which creates an aerosol or vapor, in any manner or in any form, or the use of any oral smoking device for the purpose of circumventing the prohibition of smoking.

"Electronic Smoking Device" means any product used to deliver an inhaled dose of nicotine or any other substance intended for human consumption that can be used by a person to simulate smoking through inhalation of vapor or aerosol from the product.

"Hookah" means a water pipe and any associated products and devices that are used to produce fumes, smoke, and/or vapor from the burning of material including, but not limited to, tobacco, shisha, or other plant matter.

"Tobacco Product" means: (a) any product containing, made, or derived from tobacco or nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether smoked, heated, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, inhaled, snorted, sniffed, or ingested by any other means, including, but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, little cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff; and (b) Any electronic device that delivers nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to an electronic cigarette, cigar, pipe, or hookah. (c) Notwithstanding any provision of subsections (a) and (b) to the contrary, "tobacco product" includes any component, part, or accessory of a tobacco product, whether or not sold separately. "Tobacco product" does not include any product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco cessation product or for other therapeutic purposes where such product is marketed and sold solely for such an approved purpose.  Smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free means smoking, the use of tobacco products, and the use of electronic smoking devices are prohibited.


  • Why are e-cigarettes included in the policy? 

E-cigarettes are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco cessation strategy. As an unregulated nicotine product, their use is prohibited on University property for the purposes of this policy. However, other forms of approved nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum and patches are allowed. 

“Unregulated high-tech smoking devices, commonly referred to as electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes,‘ closely resemble and purposefully mimic the act of smoking by having users inhale vaporized liquid nicotine created by heat through an electronic ignition system. After testing a number of e-cigarettes from two leading manufacturers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that various samples tested contained not only nicotine but also detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including tobacco-specific nitrosamines and diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze. The FDA‘s testing also suggested that ―quality control processes used to manufacture these products are inconsistent or non-existent. ("Summary of results: laboratory analysis of electronic cigarettes conducted by FDA," Food and Drug Administration (FDA), July 22, 2009. Click here for more information.


  • Who does the smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free policy apply to? 

This policy applies to students, staff, faculty, visitors, and vendors. The smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free policy applies to all Cuesta community, San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles facilities, properties, and vehicles. 


  • Are there designated smoking areas on campus? 

No, smoking and the use of tobacco products including electronic cigarettes are not allowed anywhere on campus property. 


  • How will a smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free campus policy affect Cuesta’s culture? 

The adoption of a 100% smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free policy promotes the health and well‐being of everyone on campus, including employees. Currently, individuals who work in outdoor areas are not provided with the same level of protection to secondhand smoke as those working indoors. A 100% smoke, vapor, and tobacco-free policy provides equal protection to everyone on campus. Additionally, the policy may encourage people who smoke to quit using tobacco and will support those individuals who have quit using tobacco. 


  • Where can I find more information and support?

Free online and telephone counseling for tobacco cessation is widely available in the United States. Online and telephone counseling has been shown to be effective in helping people quit tobacco.



California smokers helpline

The California Smokers’ Helpline is a FREE toll-free service available to anyone in the State of California. The Helpline provides FREE telephone counseling in 5 languages and TTY/TDD, and helps individuals create a personalized quit plan.


Make Online Referrals to the Helpline and Helpline staff will follow up with patients.


The DoD (Department of Defense) has an interactive website for service members looking for more information about quitting tobacco: UCanQuit2. The website offers a live chat line with a tobacco cessation coach, a message board, information about medications, games and quizzes.