Tobacco-Free Georgia State University: A Case Study

Jason A. Plemmons Mr., Georgia State University


Introduction: According to the CDC (2008), tobacco-related deaths out number deaths from alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, murders, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and illegal drug use. One out of every five deaths in the United States can be attributed to tobacco, culminating in a staggering 443,000 deaths in the US every year. Smoking is also the leading preventable cause of death in America (CDC, 2008).

In 2006, the Surgeon General’s Report speaks to not only the detrimental effects of smoking, but also the harmful effects second hand smoke can have on an individual’s health.

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Smoking and Health reported that 49,400 deaths every year in the US are the result of second hand smoke exposure, of which 46,000 will have died from heart disease attributable to second hand smoke in the environment in which they live, work, play, and learn (CDC, 2008).

While the negative health outcomes with tobacco use have inundated mainstream media and literature, tobacco use has another large and devastating effect on communities around the world. That effect is the result of Tobacco Product Litter (TPL). Beyond the unsightliness of TPL, several other unwanted complications to society result from the disregarded refuse, such as harm to the environment and damages incurred by other businesses not associated at all with tobacco products.

Rationale for Intervention: First and foremost the Tobacco-Free GSU Initiative was intended to promote the health of the Georgia State University community consisting of students, faculty, and staff. The American College Health Association (2009) recommends 100% tobacco-free campuses, indoors and outdoors.

Studies have shown that non-smokers and smokers attending college are in favor of campus policies that control the use of tobacco on campus (Rigotti, Regan, Moran, et al., 2003; Thompson B, Coronado GD, Chen L, et al., 2006). Sawdey et al. (2011) cites the need for the implementation of smoke-free policies by campuses in order to utilize the opportunity to create an atmosphere conducive to tobacco cessation. Considering that one third of young Americans attend a college or university (Rigotti et al., 2003), exposing one third of the youth population of the United States to a tobacco-free environment could potentially change the socially acceptable norms of using tobacco, whist simultaneously creating an environment free of TPL.

Intervention Strategy Analysis: Tobacco-Free GSU utilized a methodology similar to the strategies Glassman, Reindel and Whewell outlined in their 2011 study Strategies for Implementing a Tobacco-Free Campus. The Glassman et al. (2011) strategy included: Creating a Committee, Utilizing a Student Debate, Publicity, Drafting of a Potential Policy, Targeting the College or University Board of Trustees, Addressing Barriers to Becoming Tobacco-Free, Student Involvement, Administrative and Staff Support, Resources, and Enforcement

Conclusion: In order to facilitate the best possible outcome, we recommend those seeking to create a tobacco-free campus utilize the strategies outlined throughout this document, whilst creating strategies specific to their location, population, and situation.