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Excerpts from: New Harvard Studies on College Campus Smoking.
New Harvard Studies Suggest Need for Stronger Policies to Reduce Smoking
on College Campuses http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas
By U.S. Newswire New Harvard Studies on College Campus Smoking [03/22/01]
WASHINGTON, March 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Two studies released
today by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health find
that colleges and universities can reduce smoking among students,
which increased dramatically during the 1990s, by making
dormitories smoke-free and improving smoking cessation programs.
But most colleges and universities are not doing enough.
The studies found that students entering college as non-smokers
are 40 percent less likely to take up smoking when they live in
smoke-free dorms, but only 27 percent of colleges prohibit smoking
in dorms. In addition, more than 40 percent of colleges do not
offer smoking cessation programs to help students who want to quit,
and the programs that are offered are inadequate. The studies are
published this week in the March 2001 issues of the American
Journal of Preventive Medicine and the Journal of American College
"These studies are a wakeup call to college and university
administrators across the nation about the problem of smoking on
their campuses," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign
For Tobacco-Free Kids. "We call on college administrators to heed
the findings of these studies by implementing smoke-free dorms and
improving smoking cessation programs. These steps can discourage
young people from starting to smoke, protect non-smokers from the
dangers of secondhand smoke and help those who are already addicted
A previous study (released in August 2000) showed that rates of
current (30-day) smoking among college students increased by more
than one-fourth between 1993 and 1997 (from 22 to 28 percent) and
remained at the higher level in 1999.
The researchers attribute this increase to an earlier rise in
tobacco use among high school and middle school students, which
reached historically high levels during the 1990s. They state that
"it may also reflect new tobacco industry marketing efforts that
target young adults, aged 18 to 24." Recent media reports have
documented tobacco company sponsorship of bar nights, band
contests, magazine advertising and other forms of marketing
effective at reaching college-age customers.
"What we're seeing today among college students should come as
no surprise. It's the children of the Marlboro man and Joe Camel
that are now entering college and smoking at record rates," said
William V. Corr, executive vice president of the Campaign For
Tobacco-Free Kids. "And the tobacco companies are still
aggressively targeting them with music concerts, bar nights and ads
in magazines with attractive young people. We must be equally
aggressive in implementing policies and programs to prevent these
young people from starting to smoke and to help those who want to
The first study, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,
examined smoking rates among students who live in smoke-free dorms
versus those who live in unrestricted housing. The second study,
in the American Journal of College Health, assessed college
policies on smoking in dormitories and the availability and quality
of their smoking cessation programs. Key findings include:
-- Non smokers are 40 percent less likely to become smokers if
they live in smoke-free dorms, but only 27 percent of colleges
prohibit smoking in dorms.
-- The relationship of type of residence to smoking status
differed according to students' smoking histories. Among students
who were not regular smokers before age 19, current cigarette use
was significantly lower for those living in smoke-free housing than
for those in unrestricted housing. Among students who had smoked
regularly before age 19, there was no difference in current
cigarette use by housing type.
-- More than 40 percent of health directors reported that their
school did not offer smoking cessation programs.
-- Of schools with cessation programs, only 31 percent reported
having individualized counseling. Only 25 percent offer
comprehensive programs with counseling, screening and assessment by
a physician or health professional. Only 19 percent offer
cessation products approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
-- Colleges reported little student demand for existing
cessation programs. Eighty-eight percent of schools with programs
reported no waiting lists for the programs offered and 6 percent
reported discontinuing smoking cessation programs due to lack of
student demand. The researchers concluded that colleges need to
better tailor cessation programs to students' needs, as well as
market them more effectively.
The first study is based on a nationally representative sample
of college students at U.S. four-year colleges surveyed in the
spring of 1999 by the Harvard School of Public Health College
Alcohol Study (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas). The smoking
behavior of 4,495 students at 101 schools offering smoke-free
housing options was examined. The second study surveyed health
center directors at 604 four-year U.S. colleges and universities.
The research was supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
which has just launched a substance abuse resource center at
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