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Students’ opinion of tobacco control policies recommended for US colleges: a national survey
  1. N A Rigotti1,*,
  2. S Regan1,
  3. S E Moran1,
  4. H Wechsler2
  1. 1Tobacco Research and Treatment Center and Division of General Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health
  1. Correspondence to:
 Nancy A Rigotti, MD, Tobacco Research and Treatment Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Staniford Street, 9th floor, Boston, MA 02114, USA; 


Objective: Comprehensive tobacco control policies for US colleges and universities have been proposed by several groups in order to counter the rising use of tobacco by students enrolled in these institutions. Student opinion of these policies is not known, and concern about student opposition is one barrier that deters administrators from adopting the policies. This study measured student support for recommended college tobacco control policies.

Design: Mailed survey of US college students (2001 Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study).

Setting: 119 nationally representative, four-year colleges and universities in the USA.

Participants: 10 904 randomly selected undergraduate students enrolled at participating schools.

Main outcome measures: Students’ opinion of 7 proposed tobacco control policies.

Results: A majority of students supported each policy. Over three quarters of students favoured smoke-free policies for all college buildings, residences, and dining areas, while 71% supported prohibiting tobacco advertising and sponsorship of campus social events, 59% favoured prohibiting tobacco sales on campus, and 51% supported smoke-free campus bars. All policies had more support among non-smokers than smokers (p < 0.001). Among smokers, support for policies was inversely related to intention to quit and intensity of tobacco consumption. Because college students’ tobacco consumption is low, a majority of smokers favoured banning smoking in college buildings and dining areas and prohibiting tobacco marketing on campus.

Conclusions: Student support for proposed campus tobacco control policies is strong, even among smokers, and broadly based across demographic subgroups. These findings should provide reassurance to college administrators who are considering adopting these policies.

  • tobacco control policies
  • students
  • colleges

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  • * Also Department of Health and Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health