Do You Care If Your Child Attends A Smoke Free Campus?

Would whether or not a college campus allowed smoking affect your decision to send your child there for college?

Some campuses are betting it might.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services initiated the Tobacco Free College Campus Initiative ( In the 14 months since the campaign launched, the number of campuses with smoke-free policies has risen from 775 to 1,478, almost 1,000 of which are completely tobacco-free.

According to a quote from Howard Koh, MD MPH, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, 2009-2014 on the Tobacco Free Campus website, “Recognizing that 99 percent of people who smoke start using tobacco before the age of 26, HHS partnered with the American College Health Association, the University of Michigan, and the Association of Schools of Public Health and Legacy to promote the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, a movement advocating the voluntary adoption of tobacco-free policies at institutions of higher learning.”

While the push of the program is toward creating a healthy, smoke-free culture, just as important is the message a tobacco-free campus sends its students about the desirability of being a lifelong non-smoker.

Peer pressure occurs at any age, as does the internal pressure we all place on ourselves to “fit in.” Starting a new life at college, away from home and parents and childhood friends, is an intensely exciting yet challenging time in young people’s lives. When bars and dorms are filled with smokers, it’s easy for young adults to see it as “no big deal” or an “occasional” stress relaxer.

Removing the option of having tobacco and cigarettes on campus removes one more bad-choice option for teens struggling to determine where they fit in. Personally, I stand behind the idea. You can view ANRF’s complete state-by-state listing of smoke-free and tobacco-free college and university campuses in the United States at their website at

Parents, what do you think? Would a tobacco-free campus play any role in the decision you and your child make about where they should attend college? What about your kids? Would they prefer to attend a non-smoking campus? Why not ask them? The idea of making college campuses smoke free is a great conversation starter to talk to your kids about smoking in general.