USF Tobacco Survey Evaluates Smoke-Free Policy

USF students may wonder why their inbox has emails asking them to answer questions about tobacco.

Here’s why.

Health Promotion Services (HPS) recently released a survey asking students to answer questions about how the “Breathe Easy USF” initiative, which aims to make USF a smoke-free campus, and its policies affected smoking habits of students on campus.

The survey opened in mid-January and closes on Feb 15.

According to Natalie Macias, the associate director of HPS, the survey will gather “post-data” following the 100 percent smoke-free campus initiative that was implemented on Aug. 1, 2017. This policy was put into action with the help of a $20,000 grant from the American Cancer Society, which USF received for joining their Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative.

The research for the initiative includes the present survey, which is evaluating results, and a similar survey which was conducted in the fall of 2017 prior to the smoke-free campus policy being enacted.

The 2017 “pre-data” survey measured smoking habits at USF. 18.8 percent of students surveyed said they smoked at the time.

Among both smoking and non-smoking students, the pre-data survey showed that 83.4 percent of students agreed that colleges have a responsibility to promote healthy behaviors and to adopt policies that ensure people have smoke-free air to breathe.

It will take a while to process the “post-data”, according to Macias, and the results are likely to be announced around the end of the spring 2019 semester.

“We want to see what students’ perceptions and beliefs are around smoking and tobacco use, as well as secondhand smoke,” Macias said. “It is very advantageous that we were able to be recipients of the grant and with the grant, provide a student survey where we look and analyze the data.”

Macias wrote the grant application for the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative and also applied for a smaller $5,000 grant through the California Youth Advocacy Network, which is also helping fund the initiative.

Junior Saudia Thomas is happy that the initiative to make USF a smoke-free is in place. “I fully support banning smoking in high traffic or densely populated areas,” she said. “Cigarette smoke is harmful to the students and faculty. No one should have to suffer because of the habits of other people.”

Likewise, a USF student smoking on Golden Gate Avenue, right outside of campus boundaries, told the Foghorn under condition of anonymity that they respected the fact that they are not allowed to smoke on campus.

“I completed the survey, but it was the first time I learned that USF smoking policy was that intense,” said the student. “I support USF’s smoke-free policy because of [the dangers of] second-hand smoke and [for] health reasons for non-smokers. I respect the policy, and I don’t really smoke at school on the campus.”

HPS currently offers free resources for students who are trying to quit smoking, including nicotine gum or lozenges, sessions to aid students in quitting and a free subscription to the pro version of Kwit, a smoking cessation app. Macias said that these resources are available to USF students regardless of the grants.

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