By The Numbers: Voter Views on Tobacco Use on College Campuses

Tobacco use continues to be the single-largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, including among college students. In fact, of the roughly 20 million college and university students in the U.S., more than 1 million are projected to die prematurely from cigarette smoking.The National Center for Education Statistics, 2016.  Tobacco Technical Assistance  Consortium,  2002. Despite this, only 1,427 campuses of the nation’s 4,700 colleges and universities are currently tobacco free.Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, 2016.

To better understand consumer perceptions of tobacco use on college and university campuses, CVS Health recently conducted a national poll of approximately 2,200 registered voters. Here are some of the insights we gained.

Tobacco Use By Youth and College Students Seen as a Problem

According to respondents, three in four Americans say smoking and/or tobacco use among youth is a public health problem in the United States; that number is similar for college students (69 percent). Even among smokers, 69 percent believe youth smoking and/or tobacco use is a problem and more than half – 54 percent – believe the same about college students.

There is Public Support for Tobacco Control on College Campuses

Overall, there is strong support among voters for policies that prohibit smoking and other tobacco use on college and university campuses, with more than seven in 10 (75 percent) saying they strongly or somewhat support such policies, including 76 percent of college students.

In addition, more than half of voters think the number of tobacco-free campuses is too low, with 56 percent noting that 25 percent of campuses is much or somewhat too low.

Nearly half of respondents think tobacco-free campus policies decrease tobacco use among college students (46%), as well as faculty and staff (45%).

Interestingly, just over half of registered voters think whether or not a campus is tobacco free is a very or somewhat important consideration when applying to, and potentially attending, a college/university. In terms of relative importance, this ranks ahead of how competitive athletic teams are (38%).

Introducing the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative

These data suggest more can be done to reduce smoking and tobacco use through 100% smoke and tobacco-free college campus policies. That is why, as part of Be the First, CVS Health is committed to doubling the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses in the United States.

To specifically help more college and university students, faculty and staff on the path to tobacco-free lives, the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation recently announced the award of grants to 20 U.S. colleges and universities as part of their Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, the largest initiative of its kind.

All U.S. college and university students, faculty and staff are encouraged to visit to learn more about the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative. There, administrators can apply for a grant for their school.

This effort builds on CVS Health’s commitment to helping people lead tobacco-free lives since removing tobacco products from all CVS Pharmacy stores in September 2014. To learn more about our tobacco-free efforts, visit our Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Information Center.