Smoke-free Imperial

Imperial is going smoke-free


From 1 August 2017, all Imperial campuses and properties will be smoke-free. This means that smoking by staff and students will not be permitted on or within 20 metres of College land.

This change supports Imperial’s commitment to creating and maintaining a healthy environment for its community and visitors. Evidence shows that smoke-free policies are associated with reductions in the prevalence of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, and fewer cigarettes smoked.

The new Smoke-Free Policy will bring us into line with the NHS policy, which has required all our hospital campuses to be smoke free for the past two years. The new policy will only be a change for three of the College’s campuses.

A range of support is available via the College and the NHS for staff and students who are considering quitting smoking. For example, staff and students can self-refer to Occupational Health to receive six free weekly sessions, delivered by a trained advisor. Find out more

Questions & Answers

How has this change come about?

A working group was convened in January 2016 to consider the College’s smoking policy. The working group included representatives from each of the faculties and from Imperial College Union. An MSc student was commissioned to carry out a survey on smoking amongst College staff and students. In addition, Imperial College Union carried out their own survey of students.

Provost’s Board took account of these survey results in making their decision, as well as considering smoking policies at other organisations, including the NHS.

This change will bring all of our campuses into line with NHS policy, which has required all our hospital campuses to be smoke free for the past two years. Sale of tobacco products on campus ceased during 2016.

We know that this will be a significant change for some members of our community. That’s why we wanted to share the policy in full prior to its August implementation. As we ask all staff and students for their help in implementing the new policy, we do also want to hear about any practical issues or concerns. You can get in touch with these or any other questions not covered here via smoke.free@imperial.ac.uk.

How will the policy be enforced?

We are asking all staff and students for help in implementing the new policy, but particularly staff in a management position.

If you approach someone who is smoking on campus and they refuse to move, please email and we will look into it. 

Why is smoking not permitted within 20 metres of campus perimeters?

Imperial’s responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Health Act 2006 mean that we have a duty to limit our community’s exposure to passive smoking. The policy aims to avoid members of our community being exposed to tobacco smoke by having to walk past smokers standing near building entrances. 

What about e-cigarettes?

The use of e-cigarettes is not permitted in any College buildings.

E-cigarettes are not covered by the restrictions of the new policy as they are not regulated through health and tobacco related legislation in the UK. They are potentially less harmful than smoking products, and potentially useful for those wishing to quit smoking. It should be noted though that the medical evidence base, particularly around longer term use, is still developing. 

What about student events at Beit Quad?

For reasons of practicality, smoking will be permitted in Beit Quad on Wednesday and Friday evenings during term-time when major ticketed events are being held. 

Where can smokers smoke?

We would encourage all smokers to consider accessing support to quit smoking. But for those students and staff who choose to smoke, the policy expects that they smoke off campus and away from our buildings and building entrances. As our campuses are in close proximity of residential homes, businesses and schools we ask staff and students to be mindful of the health and well-being of our neighbours.

Why is the College making this change?

In line with its duty of care to staff and students, Imperial is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy environment.

Exposure to tobacco smoke either by smoking or passive smoking is the largest single preventable cause of death and disease in the UK.

In addition, passive smoking can be uncomfortable for other members of the community, particularly those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Evidence shows that smoke-free policies are associated with reductions in the prevalence of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, and with fewer cigarettes being smoked.