Breathe Easy, At Least On-Campus

Smoking rates drop after college campuses ban tobacco

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Smoking affects everyone in the vicinity. So, when clusters of students and teachers light up after class, everyone on campus has to put up with secondhand smoke. Is that fair?

A recent study surveyed thousands of students right before a campus-wide smoking ban and for several years afterwards. The number of students in support of the ban increased over time, as did the number of nonsmokers. 

"Check your campus for smoking cessation assistance."

Yvon Fils-Aime, MD, tobacco health educator in the Department of Health Services, and William V. Lechner, MS, from the Department of Psychology, at Oklahoma State University, worked with a team to track the changes in smoking on college campuses in recent years.

For the study, 4,947 college undergraduates attending a large Midwestern university between 2007-2010 filled out surveys concerning attitudes and habits towards smoking. Surveys were completed at the start of the study and another three times through 2010.

Tobacco use was banned on the campus in 2008. Tobacco cessation information and assistance services were made available to all students at this time.

Surveys asked questions about secondhand smoke exposure, preferences about smoke-free environments and enforcement policies and beliefs about smoking.

The number of nonsmokers increased from 74 percent in 2007 steadily to 82 percent in 2010.

The rate of less frequent smokers went from 14 percent in 2007 to 9 percent in 2010.

The rate of more frequent smokers went from 10 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2008 and 7 percent in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, 77 percent of students surveyed said they agreed with the tobacco ban and in 2010 the number increased to 81 percent.

Authors concluded, “It appears that a campus-wide tobacco ban is a well-accepted and effective prevention method for smoking. This study lends considerable support for efforts towards smoke-free campaigns.”

“Findings from this study should encourage other campuses to implement smoke-free interventions.”

Since May 2011, more than 245 campuses in the US have become 100 percent smoke-free environments.

This study was published in September in the Journal of American College Health.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 7, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013