BACKGROUND: Currently, most college campuses across the U.S. in some way address on-campus cigarette smoking, mainly through policies that restrict smoking on campus premises. However, it is not well understood whether college-level anti-smoking policies help reduce cigarette smoking among students. In addition, little is known about policies that may have an impact on student smoking behavior. This study attempted to address these issues through a literature review.
METHODS: A systematic literature review was performed. To identify relevant studies, the following online databases were searched using specific keywords: Ovid MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar. Studies that met the exclusion and inclusion criteria were selected for review. Studies were not excluded based on the type of anti-smoking policy studied.
RESULTS: Total 11 studies were included in the review. The majority of the studies (54.5%) were cross-sectional in design, 18% were longitudinal, and the rest involved counting cigarette butts or smokers. Most studies represented more women than men and more Whites than individuals of other ethnic/racial groups. The majority (54.5%) of the studies evaluated 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free campus policies. Other types of policies studied included the use of partial smoking restriction and integration of preventive education and/or smoking cessation programs into college-level policies. As far as the role of campus smoking policies on reducing student smoking behavior is concerned, the results of the cross-sectional studies were mixed. However, the results of the two longitudinal studies reviewed were promising in that policies were found to significantly reduce smoking behavior and pro-smoking attitudes over time.
CONCLUSION: More longitudinal studies are needed to better understand the role of college anti-smoking policies on student smoking behavior. Current data indicate that stricter, more comprehensive policies, and policies that incorporate prevention and cessation programming, produce better results in terms of reducing smoking behavior.