-- Alan Mozes
THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Campus-wide smoking bans
appear to help university students cut back on their nicotine
habit, new research suggests.
The finding stems from a comparative analysis of smoking
patterns on two campuses: one with a ban and one without.
"Although we haven't pinpointed which element of the campus-wide smoke-free air policy contributed the most to the positive changes in students' smoking rates, having such a policy in place does appear to influence students' smoking-related norms and behaviors even without strong enforcement of the policy," study co-author Dong-Chul Seo, associate professor at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said in a university news release.
"These results are encouraging for university administrators considering stronger tobacco control policies," he added.
Seo and his colleagues released their findings online in advance
of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal
About one-fifth of American college students smoke, the authors
noted in the news release.
To explore how smoking bans might affect that stat, between 2007
and 2009 the team focused on the experience of their own
university's Bloomington campus, as well as that of Purdue
University in West Lafayette, Ind.
The two campuses have a lot in common in terms of the
demographics of their student bodies and in light of the fact that
both are in cities that have implemented smoke-free air
Even though Indiana University's smoking ban was not
particularly well-enforced, the investigators found a marked
drop-off in smoking among the students in Bloomington.
For example, during the two-year study period, smoking dropped
by nearly 4 percent on the Indiana University campus, down to just
below 13 percent of the student body. By contrast, Purdue's smoking
rate increased somewhat to edge above 10 percent.
What's more, Indiana University students who continued to smoke
went on to smoke fewer cigarettes per day over the course of the
study, while per-day cigarette totals went up at Purdue, the
Perceptions also shifted. During the two-year period, Indiana
University students came to believe that fewer of their peers were
still smoking (dropping from the pre-study estimate that about
one-quarter of their fellow students smoked). This compared with a
perceived uptick of nearly 8 percent among Purdue University
The ban also appeared to affect the way students viewed smoking
rights. Indiana University students came to increasingly step back
from the notion that smoking among their peers was acceptable and a
right. At Purdue the notion that students should be allowed to
smoke went up 7 percent.
And while support for campus-wide smoking bans and public area
smoking regulations went up among Indiana University students, it
decreased among their Purdue peers.
Seo suggested that even with a weakly enforced ban, the fact of
its existence may have contributed to the observed changes.
"The positive changes may be attributable to increased awareness of the policy due to signage, media coverage and a campus bus completely wrapped with anti-tobacco messaging," he suggested.
For more on smoking and youth, visit the
U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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