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Tobacco-Free Task Force shares results of survey on impact of Tobacco-Free Policy

The Tobacco-Free Task Force at Ohio University is continuing to monitor the Tobacco-Free Initiative and respond to feedback from the campus community. The Athens Campus became a tobacco-free environment in August 2015 based on the recommendation from the Ohio Board of Regents. The first post-implementation survey on the impact of the Tobacco-Free Policy was conducted within the University community in November 2015 and the Task Force is pleased to share the results of this survey.

Key Facts and Figures from the Survey 

  • The average percentage decrease in tobacco use that participants noted on the Athens Campus since the tobacco-free environment began on Aug. 1, 2015, is 41 percent.
  • A total of 59 percent of survey participants reported that they see tobacco use on campus either “never” (4 percent) or “occasionally” (55 percent) compared to a total of 32 percent of participants reporting “never” (1 percent) or “occasionally” (31 percent) in a previous survey conducted in April 2015.
  • A total of 77 percent of survey participants reported tobacco litter as either “barely noticeable” or “somewhat noticeable” compared to combined 58 percent reporting the same in the April 2015 survey.
  • A total of 3,265 participants responded to the survey, a 37 percent increase from the April 2015 survey.
  • Survey participants identifying as non-tobacco users were 87 percent.
  • Tobacco users in the survey considering quitting tobacco use numbered at 42 percent, compared to 33 percent from the April 2015 survey. 
  • 265 respondents offered to participate in the upcoming “Say Something Challenge.”
  • To read more about survey results and comparisons to the April 2015 survey, go to www.ohio.edu/tobacco-free and watch the video. 

Although the numbers show that the policy has had a positive impact, the comments sections in the survey reflect that there is still a degree of frustration or dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the policy. The greatest theme in the feedback was frustration about the lack of enforcement for the policy. Within that topic, several respondents asked if enforcement or consequences would eventually be used to increase compliance. While there are currently no plans in place to add disciplinary procedures for tobacco use on campus, this portion of the policy will be continually reviewed based on internal feedback from the campus community as well as other factors, including decisions made at the state level in regards to tobacco legislation.

Other concerns expressed in the survey were needs for greater communication about the boundaries of the tobacco-free areas on campus, such as a map or other visual identifiers. With this feedback in mind, a map is now in the process of being created to show tobacco-free boundaries on campus. There were also requests for designated smoking areas to increase compliance and decrease tobacco litter. A percentage of participants expressed the belief that the policy infringes on individual rights.  

The Task Force is pleased with the overall positive feedback indicated by the survey results and is committed to continuing to encourage compliance to a tobacco-free environment and providing resources for tobacco cessation for a healthier campus community. There is still work to be done, and the Task Force asks members of the University community to do their part in encouraging compliance and taking pride in our tobacco-free environment. 

The five participants who won a $50 Bobcat Cash participation incentive were Ryan Wantland, Katie Pittman, Christian Power, Alicia Carter, and one student who wished to remain anonymous. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who participated in the survey!

This article was provided by the Ohio University Tobacco-Free Task Force.