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Research Summary about "Perceptions of Nicotine and Tobacco Use Prior to Implementation of the Tobacco Free KU Policy"

Conducted by the Tobacco Free KU Steering Committee

The purpose of this campus-wide survey was to assess perceptions of on-campus nicotine and tobacco use prior to implementation of the Tobacco Free KU (TFKU) policy. Respondents (N = 3,404) consisting of students, faculty, and staff at the University of Kansas (KU) completed an online survey sent by the Office of the Provost about tobacco use on campus and in their personal lives in fall 2017. In addition to providing quantitative data, respondents had the opportunity to provide (optional) open-ended comments at the end of the survey.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (87%) reported either never having smoked cigarettes or not having smoked within the last 30 days. Approximately 5% of the sample reported being daily cigarette smokers, with another 5% reporting using e-cigarettes daily. Tobacco cigarette smokers received the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND; Heatherton et al., 1991). The mean score generated by smokers who completed the FTND suggested that, overall, the smokers in our sample fall within the low-dependence range.

Seventy-three percent of the sample reported exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke on campus in the last 7 days. As a means of assessing general sentiments toward cigarette smoke, respondents were asked to complete the sentence “In general, smoke from other people’s cigarettes is…”. A large majority (78%) reported being bothered by cigarette smoke (e.g., smoke from other people’s cigarettes isannoying”).

Respondents were asked to identify up to three locations on a campus map where they typically see the most amount of smoking on campus.  The highest concentrations of cigarette smokers were observed on Wescoe Beach, the sidewalks outside of the Kansas Union, outside Fraser Hall, and the residence halls on west campus.  View map here and it's also in the full report

More than half of the optional comments provided by the respondents suggested strong support for the TFKU initiative. Those who identified as smokers, while equally vehement in their end-of survey comments, comprised only a small proportion of the sample (~5%). The present findings serve as a baseline indicator of policy engagement and sentiment and nicotine/tobacco product use and dependence (via nicotine/tobacco use demographics and dependence measures), to serve as a comparison to future survey administrations, following implementation of the policy in July 2018.


The full research report and a cover letter were sent to

Provost Neeli Bendapudi on March 12, 2018.

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