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J Community Health. 2020 Jan 10. doi: 10.1007/s10900-020-00790-3. [Epub ahead of print]

Student Attitudes Toward Tobacco Use and Tobacco Policies on College Campuses.

Author information

1
Department of Health Behavior & Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Box 980430, Richmond, VA, 23298-0430, USA. Elizabeth.Do@vcuhealth.org.
2
Cancer Prevention and Control, VCU Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, VA, USA. Elizabeth.Do@vcuhealth.org.
3
Department of Health Behavior & Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University, Box 980430, Richmond, VA, 23298-0430, USA.
4
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Health and Population Sciences, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.
5
Cancer Prevention and Control, VCU Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, VA, USA.

Abstract

We utilized a mixed methods approach to assess student attitudes towards tobacco use and campus tobacco policies. Interviews (N = 21), focus groups (N = 2 groups, 4-5 participants each), and an online survey (N = 636) were conducted among a sample of students attending a 4-year, urban, public university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. In interviews and focus groups, students expressed skepticism about a tobacco-free campus policy due to perceived violations of personal rights and challenges with enforcement. Of the sample surveyed, 9.2% and 20.6% had used cigarettes or e-cigarettes within the past 30 days. The majority of students agreed that colleges have a responsibility to adopt tobacco-free policies that reduce the risk of tobacco addiction (62.4%) and ensure smoke-free air to breathe (81.5%). However, more than half (56.3%) also indicated that a policy allowing for designated smoking areas for cigarettes was best for campus, which runs counter to a comprehensive tobacco-free policy. Academic year, gender, and race/ethnicity were significant factors associated with support for tobacco-free policies. Current smokers and vapers were less likely to support tobacco-free policies that reduce the risk of tobacco addiction (OR = 0.3, 95% CI 0.1, 0.7 for smokers; OR = 0.3, 95% CI 0.1, 0.6 for vapers), but not policies that ensure smoke-free air to breathe. E-cigarettes pose a unique obstacle to tobacco-free policies, as students perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful than cigarettes. To implement a tobacco-free campus policy, students suggested educational campaigns that focus on the potential health benefits of a tobacco-free campus.

KEYWORDS:

Attitudes; College; Perceptions; Students; Tobacco; Tobacco policies; Tobacco-free campus policy; University

PMID:
31925604
DOI:
10.1007/s10900-020-00790-3

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