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The Smoke-Free Campus: A Report by the Commission on Substance Abuse at Colleges and Universities

The Smoke-Free Campus: A Report by the Commission on Substance Abuse at Colleges and Universities

Published: August 1993

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Abuse and addiction involving all substances—alcohol, nicotine, pills, illegal drugs and steroids—jeopardize the quality of education and threaten the well-being of millions of young men and women in our colleges and universities. This report discusses the importance of a smoke-free environment at colleges and universities and recommends steps for colleges and universities to take to create smoke-free campuses.


This report involved a review of publications and programs related to college student smoking and smoke-free policies.


Despite declining smoking rates among the general population over the last decade, surveys of high school seniors and first-year college students indicate that smoking in this age group has declined by only 1.6% since 1981. Almost a quarter of college students smoke cigarettes; of those students, more than half smoke on a daily basis.

This study found that smoke-free campuses can be a powerful tool in the ongoing effort to encourage healthy lifestyles. Despite the obstacles and occasional resistance, universities and colleges can develop smoke-free policies and set an example for the broader community. The college years afford a brief but critical opportunity to encourage healthy habits that can last a lifetime—and colleges and universities have an obligation to grasp that opportunity.


This report recommends the following to help America’s colleges and universities become smoke-free:

  • Eliminate smoking in all campus buildings and at all campus events
  • Provide assistance to those who need help with smoking cessation; ensure that this treatment is covered by the college or university health plan and is available repeatedly to those who relapse
  • Ban the sale of all tobacco products on campus
  • Prohibit the advertising and distribution of tobacco products on campus
  • Deny the use of the school logo on smoking paraphernalia, such as cigarette lighters and ashtrays
  • Join with students in creating and nourishing a culture and atmosphere in which smoking is widely seen as a socially unacceptable and unhealthy habit

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