Bright Spot: Tobacco Free College Campuses

Photo by JJ Shev on Unsplash

This bright spot was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


Detailed Description

Prohibiting all tobacco use throughout a campus reduces the risks from secondhand smoke and promotes the health and well-being of members of the entire campus community. Because campuses are often highly visible within a community, adopting a tobacco-free policy educates the public, local government and organizations about the importance of the policy, and encourages them to adopt similar measures and promotes healthy social norms.

Expected Outcomes

To have a positive influence on student behavior by decreasing tobacco use rates and increasing student acceptance of smoke-free policies and restrictions among college students.

Key Lessons Learned

Communication and education are the most important factors in successfully implementing a new tobacco-free local regulation.

Cost Details

As of May 2014, the cost of this intervention is as follows:

  • Costs to purchase and post tobacco-free campus signs at all entrances of college buildings, grounds, parking lots, athletic facilities, and in vehicles
  • Costs of updating student handbooks, websites and orientation guides
  • Additional costs may be incurred to spread the information through campus organizations, activities and newspapers
  • Additional costs may be incurred to develop business and public educational materials
  • Costs of Nicotine Replacement Therapy, based on availability of funds

For the latest cost details, please contact the Tobacco-free College Campuses program directly.

Key Steps for Implementation

  1. Collect and review data and information about tobacco use.
  2. Conduct a policy assessment.
  3. Find and educate allies; create a tobacco-free campus planning committee.
  4. Determine culture/perceived opinions of tobacco use and the desire for a tobacco-free policy.
  5. Use model tobacco-free college policy to help get you started.
  6. Develop a plan to educate the stakeholders.
  7. Prepare for meetings with decision-makers.
  8. Develop your implementation plan as you are working on your adoption strategies. Use your allies to form a tobacco-free campus implementation committee (may be the same as planning committee).
  9. Develop a compliance plan.
  10. Communicate the policy through multiple methods (e.g. signs, flyers, website, handbooks, etc).
  11. Implement the policy.
  12. Promote cessation services, especially Quitline and Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
  13. Evaluate the policy's effectiveness.


College stakeholders

Policies, Laws and Regulations

Clear state and local authority

Required Staffing (FTEs)

0.50 FTE

Special Infrastructure

Links to the college administration, staff and students

Tobacco-free signs


Policy Development and community Organizing

Types of Staff

Master's in Public Health or equivalent experience

Return on Investment Details

Tobacco-free college environments lead to reductions in the numbers of students and staff who use tobacco, the amount of tobacco products consumed, reduced exposure to secondhand smoke, lower health care costs, reduced absenteeism and lower maintenance costs.

Outcome Measures

  • Decreased tobacco use
  • Reduced exposure to secondhand smoke

Process Measures

  • Percentage of Individual/families in the college community that support the policy
  • Differences in pre and post air quality
  • Compliance data
  • Number of referrals to the Quitline

 Related Topics

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Tobacco Use

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College Campuses