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Tobacco on campus: industry marketing and tobacco control policy among post-secondary institutions in Canada


Objective: Post-secondary institutions provide a unique opportunity to implement and evaluate leading edge tobacco policies, while influencing a key group of young adults. To date, however, we know little about the tobacco control environment at post-secondary institutions outside the USA.

Design: Telephone surveys were conducted with campus informants from 35 post-secondary institutions in Canada to evaluate tobacco control policies and the presence of tobacco marketing on campus.

Main outcome measures: Tobacco marketing on campus, tobacco control policies, and attitudes towards tobacco control.

Results: The findings indicate that tobacco marketing is prevalent among post-secondary institutions in Canada. Every university and half of all colleges surveyed had participated in some form of tobacco marketing in the past year. Among universities, 80% had run a tobacco advertisement in their paper and 18% had hosted a tobacco sponsored nightclub event. Tobacco control policies varied considerably between institutions. Although several campuses had introduced leading edge policies, such as campus wide outdoor smoking restrictions and tobacco sales bans, there is a general lack of awareness of tobacco issues among campus decision makers and fundamental public health measures, such as indoor smoke-free policies, have yet to be introduced in many cases.

Conclusions: Post-secondary institutions in Canada remain tobacco friendly environments. Without increased direction and support from the public health community, post-secondary institutions will continue to lag behind, rather than lead current policy standards.

  • tobacco use
  • campus policy
  • marketing
  • attitudes
  • post-secondary

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