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Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities

As 1 in 5 college students report use of some type of tobacco product, tobacco use on college campuses remains a major concern.  As students transition into this new phase of their lives, initiation of tobacco use during college years is also a concern as 11.5 percent of college students reportedly started smoking occasionally over the course of their four years in school

According to the 2012 Surgeon General's Report on Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults:

  • In 2010, there were more than 20 million students enrolled in degree-granting institutions. This does not include faculty, staff, and visitors to campuses who are also impacted by a smoke-free or tobacco-free campus policy.
  • Many risk factors, including tobacco use, peak from 18-25 years of age; college attendance could be a turning point in choosing not to use tobacco products.
  • Approximately 24.8% of full-time college students aged 18-22 years old were current smokers in 2010.
  • The number of smokers who initiated smoking after age 18 increased from 600,000 in 2002 to one million in 2010.
  • Progression from occasional to daily smoking almost always occurs by age 26.
  • While smoking rates are higher for their peers not enrolled in college, college students and campus policies offer a unique opportunity to create and sustain tobacco-free living.

According to 2010 data from the American College Health Association (ACHA, 2011a):

  • 15.2 % of college students have used cigarettes within the last 30 days.
  • 17.3 % of college students report being lifetime users and/or use additional tobacco products.

In Georgia, 21% (1.5 million) adults are cigarette smokers and cigarette use is highest among the college aged population than any other age group. According to the 2011 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data, smoking prevalence among young adults ages 18-24 is 25% (240,000 adults). 

Best practice recommendations for tobacco control consist of the following objectives:

  • Prevent initiation among youth and young adults
  • Promote quitting among adults and youth
  • Eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Identify and eliminate tobacco-related disparities

Tobacco-Free Campus Policies - Implementing a tobacco-free policy on campus helps to address all four of the best practice recommendations.  Furthermore, addressing tobacco use and influence on campuses could prevent a new cohort of lifetime smokers.  A toolkit providing step-by-step guidance on adopting and implementing this type of policy is provided below.  Feel free to utilize these Tobacco-Free Campus resources for your university and your community. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION - please contact: gatobaccofreecu@dph.ga.gov


Chanelle L Jefferson, MPA
Youth Tobacco Prevention Coordinator
Office: (404) 657-0614