Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2015

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Michael Eriksen, Sc.D.

Second Advisor

Jessica Howell Pratt, MPH

Abstract

Background:

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death, not only within the United States but now globally. Research shows that health promotion has helped to educate individuals of the harms and risks associated with usage, but tobacco control policies help to prevent individuals from initiating use and assist others with cessation, and especially help protect nonsmokers from the adverse effects of secondhand smoke. These types of policies are particularly increasing on college and university campuses, as seen with the October 2014 adoption of a 100% tobacco and smoke-free policy on the campuses of the 30 institutions that constitute the University System of Georgia (USG). This evaluation studied the development and implementation of a system-wide tobacco and smoke-free policy, examining the effectiveness of multiple intervention components adopted to prevent and control tobacco use by students, faculty, and staff.

Methodology for Proposed Plan and Products:

The USG worked to develop an education campaign prior to the official implementation of the tobacco-free policy, creating signage, communications, promotional student and faculty videos, and two websites to provide policy information as well as implementation resources and cessation material. The USG also organized a Tobacco-Free Kick-Off Meeting, providing institutional leadership with a forum to address any questions or concerns. One individual from each institution (n= 30 individuals) then participated in a survey addressing the strategies used throughout implementation, for the purpose of collecting information on support and success six months post-policy adoption. Results indicated that the majority of institutions actively communicated the new policy (n=29; 96.7%), used signage (n=27; 90%) and accessed the website (n=24; 80%). Employees positively supported the policy (n=28; 93.3%), reporting substantial compliance on campus (n= 22; 73.3%) and sufficient support from the USG (n=24; 80%).

Discussion:

It appears that the system-wide implementation of the tobacco-free policy was supported and successful on campuses. Further evaluation research is necessary to assess more long-term impacts of the policy, specifically health-related outcomes for faculty, staff, and students as well as methods customized to the growing concern of e-cigarettes on campus. This implementation analysis and evaluation provides further support to the national tobacco-free campus initiative with a unique system-wide perspective.

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