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Statewide diffusion of 100% tobacco-free college and university policies


Objectives As smoking among college students reached new highs in the 1990s, most interventions for college student smoking prevention focused on individual student knowledge, attitudes and beliefs. No published studies report on statewide movements to accelerate the adoption of tobacco-free policies on college campuses. The results of the first 4 years of the North Carolina Tobacco-Free Colleges Initiative are presented.

Methods The North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund developed a multilevel intervention to accelerate the diffusion of tobacco-free policies on college campuses, including funding campus coordinators and coalitions to tailor activities to the campus environment at 64 colleges. Evaluators tracked process and policy outcomes as well as the diffusion of policy adoption from January 2006–December 2009.

Results Prior to the initiative, only one small, private college campus in North Carolina was tobacco-free. By 4 years into the initiative, 33 colleges and community colleges, representing more than 159 300 students, have adopted comprehensive tobacco-free policies to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors. Participating campuses also adopted 68 policies restricting smoking in certain areas and limiting industry activity.

Conclusions Tobacco-free policy adoption on college campuses can be accelerated with a multilevel statewide intervention.

  • Tobacco use disorder
  • smoking
  • policy making
  • diffusion of innovation
  • universities
  • environment
  • environmental tobacco smoke
  • public policy
  • young adults

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