In 2015, 8.1% of middle school and 27.9% of high school students that responded to the Oklahoma Youth Tobacco survey currently used tobacco products. While smoking use has declined over recent years, use of other tobacco products has actually increased. In just 2 years, electronic cigarette use has risen over 200% among middle and high school students, and hookah use among this group almost doubled. Tobacco education and smoking prevention remain critical in the school environment.
Young people are more likely to use tobacco if they perceive it as acceptable among peers, teachers, coaches or other school staff. However, with 100% tobacco-free schools, we can ensure students encounter positive role models before, during and after school. Tobacco-free campuses can help protect children from the many dangers of tobacco and reduce the likelihood that they’ll start using it.
In May 2015, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill that requires all school campuses to be tobacco free 24 hours a day, seven days a week. State law requires schools to be smokefree during the school day, however the new law provides further protection for students from all forms of tobacco before and after school, and during sporting and other events, too. Policies like this help prevent young people from starting to use tobacco and support individuals in maintaining a tobacco-free lifestyle. Plus, as a tobacco-free campus, schools can reduce litter cleanup costs associated with tobacco waste.
Learn about Oklahoma’s 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Program here.
According to the 2012 Surgeon General’s Report, 99% of smokers begin smoking and using other forms of tobacco by age 26. This makes colleges and universities a critical target for smoking prevention and tobacco-cessation efforts.
Under Oklahoma law, all public colleges and universities are required to be 100% smokefree campuses. Some private institutions in the state have also implemented 100% smokefree-campus policies, and as of April 2015, at least 51 public or private campuses have adopted 100% tobacco-free policies.
While smokefree policies prohibit the use of smoke-producing tobacco like cigarettes, e-cigarettes and cigars, tobacco-free policies ban ALL tobacco products—including, but not limited to, hookah, spit tobacco, snus, lozenges and any other smokeless product.
Tobacco-free policies also outlaw tobacco sales promotions, marketing and sponsorships. This is key, as the college demographic is a major target audience for the tobacco industry. By creating tobacco-free campuses, we can diminish the tobacco industry’s influence on young adults and help prevent a new generation of lifetime smokers.
24.8% of full-time college students aged 18-22 years old were current smokers in 2010.