CHAPEL HILL, NC — A newsurvey of all North Carolina colleges shows that outdoor college smoking prevention policies are now in effect at 88 percent of North Carolina’s colleges and universities (97 of 110). All UNC system and North Carolina Community College System campuses now have smoke-free buildings.
“These results represent dramatic improvements in indoor and outdoor protections from secondhand smoke across North Carolina and are a major improvement in fighting the war on cancer,” notes Joseph Lee, survey manager, and social research specialist the UNC School of Medicine’s Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program. Forty-three campuses now protect over 185,500 North Carolina students each semester from tobacco exposure in all indoor and outdoor areas.
Community colleges in North Carolina have more smoke-free and tobacco-free policies than either public four-year universities or private college/university policies. Thirty-one community colleges (53 percent) have complete smoke- or tobacco-free campuses. An additional six community colleges (10 percent) have policies protecting exposure to secondhand smoke a certain number of feet from doorways and windows.
Twelve (75 percent) of UNC system universities have policies that prevent smoking at building entrances and exits, and four of those policies (25 percent) protect students from exposure to secondhand smoke within 100 feet of all buildings.
Private colleges and universities had fewer overall protections than their public two- and four-year counterparts, with 13 (36 percent) having outdoor protections at all building entrances and exits and nine (25 percent) having 100 percent smoke-free policies. All but one private university has completely eliminated smoke exposure in all campus buildings.
With only 13 of North Carolina’s 110 college and university campuses having no restrictions on tobacco use outdoors, North Carolina is moving towards compliance with The American College Health Association, which represents university health centers, and their recommendation of 100 percent tobacco-free campuses indoors and outdoors.
“North Carolina clearly leads in the United States in its promotion of tobacco-free colleges,” said Dr. Adam Goldstein, Professor of Family Medicine and Director of the UNC Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program, which conducted the analysis. “The North Carolina Health & Wellness Trust Fund deserves significant recognition for its successful promotion of this initiative.”
The college tobacco policy survey was conducted as part of the evaluation of the N.C. Tobacco-Free Colleges Initiative, which helps colleges and universities adopt and implement tobacco-free policies with funding from the North Carolina Health & Wellness Trust Fund, a state commission that receives settlement funds from a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The Initiative has provided services to 95 percent of North Carolina’s colleges and universities. Researchers identified policies at all 110 college and universities that are members of the University of North Carolina system, the North Carolina Community College System, or North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Policies were then independently coded to ensure accuracy.
“The investments in North Carolina’s Tobacco-Free Colleges Initiative through the NC Health & Wellness Trust Fund are paying off in creating a healthier environment for staff, students, faculty, and visitors to campuses across the state,” notes Dr. Goldstein.
The list of tobacco-free campuses is available online at http://www.tpep.unc.edu/reports/tf_colleges.pdf.