Online Program

Evolution of a smoke- and tobacco-free campus: Lessons from the university of Washington, 1998-2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kate Cole, MPH, Tobacco Studies Program, University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA
Abigail Halperin, MD, MPH, University of Washington, School of Medicine and Public Health, UW Tobacco Studies Program, Seattle, WA
Introduction: The college years are a time of increased risk of smoking initiation and transition to regular smoking. Campus tobacco control policies can reduce tobacco-use rates by changing social norms, in addition to reducing environmental damage and secondhand smoke exposure, and saving money in the form of healthcare costs, employee productivity, and maintenance. From 1998 - 2013, the University of Washington progressed from a campus allowing smoking in dorms and tobacco promotion on campus, to an entirely smoke- and tobacco-free University. This presentation outlines the advocacy tactics used and challenges faced. Methods: Advocates used a range of tactics to advance change, including: engaging student government; framing tobacco prevention around issues that matter to young adults; boycotts; letter-writing campaigns; meetings with University decision-makers; demonstrating how tobacco allowances violated University mission and policies; implementing enhanced tobacco treatment services; and securing a grant to make the University hospital smoke-free. Barriers faced included decision-maker concern that tobacco control would be costly to undertake and result in lost revenue and viewing tobacco use as a ‘personal choice.' Results: These methods resulted in the banning of smoking in dorms, sale of tobacco products on campus, tobacco advertising in the campus newspaper, University divestment from tobacco company stock, and, this year, a commitment to make all University property 100% smoke- and tobacco-free. Conclusions: A combination of bottom-up and top-down support, patience and persistence, and care, rather than blame, toward smokers was key to success. This case study reflects national trends and can provide guidance to other colleges.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
List benefits of tobacco control on college campuses. Describe strategies for advocating for increased tobacco control on college campuses. Identify stakeholders and analyze their interests. Assess potential barriers to campus tobacco control policy.

Keyword(s): Tobacco Policy, College Students

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinated the smoke- and tobacco-free initiative at the University of Washington, in addition to participating in regional tobacco-free campus coalitions and events. I support a tobacco prevention and treatment education program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.