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Smoke-free and tobacco-free colleges and universities in the United States
  1. Kelly D Blake1,
  2. Amanda L Klein2,
  3. Laura Walpert3,
  4. Len Casey3,
  5. Cynthia Hallett3,
  6. Clifford Douglas4,
  7. Bidisha Sinha4,
  8. Howard K Koh5
  1. 1 HCIRB/BRP/DCCPS, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  2. 2 BLH Technologies, Inc, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  3. 3 American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, Berkeley, California, USA
  4. 4 American Cancer Society, Inc, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  5. 5 Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kelly D Blake, HCIRB/BRP/DCCPS, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9671, USA; kelly.blake{at}


Objective To describe the number and proportion of accredited, degree-granting institutions with 100% smoke-free and 100% tobacco-free protections across the USA and by state.

Methods Data on postsecondary education institutions from the US Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System 2015, and smoke-free and tobacco-free campus protections from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation’s Smokefree and Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities List 2017, were integrated to calculate the number and proportion of: (1) smoke-free and tobacco-free accredited, degree-granting institutions and (2) students and staff protected by campus policies and state laws. Campus protections are given a 100% smoke-free designation if smoking is not allowed on campus anywhere, at any time; 100% tobacco-free designations extend smoke-free protections to include non-combustible products such as smokeless tobacco.

Results 823 accredited, degree-granting institutions (16.7%) representing 1816 individual campuses, sites and schools have either 100% smoke-free or 100% tobacco-free protections. An estimated 14.9 million college students (26.9%) and 8.9 million faculty and staff (25.4%) are protected by campus policies and state laws. Only three states and two territories have 100% smoke-free or 100% tobacco-free protections in over half of their institutions; four states and six territories have no known 100% smoke-free or 100% tobacco-free campus protections.

Conclusions In 2017, just 16.7% of accredited, degree-granting institutions in the USA had 100% smoke-free or 100% tobacco-free protections. Despite progress, more efforts can ensure that students and staff benefit from comprehensive 100% smoke-free and 100% tobacco-free protections at US colleges and universities.

  • campus
  • policy
  • college
  • university
  • student
  • smoke-free

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  • Contributors KDB: conceived of study, provided oversight and expertise, analysed and interpreted data, drafted manuscript and reviewer response. ALK: led data integration and data analysis, assisted with data interpretation; and contributed to manuscript and reviewer response. LW, LC and CH: provided American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation data, interpreted data, contributed to manuscript and contributed to reviewer response (LW). CD, BS and HKK: provided content expertise and historical background, reviewed and interpreted data and contributed to manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by the National Cancer Institute using support from HHSN261201000043C, HHSN261201700004I and HHSN261201400002B.

  • Disclaimer The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products or organisations imply endorsement by the US government. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and may not necessarily represent NIH positions or policies.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not Required

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.