Hutch News Stories

Tobacco prevention/cessation study aims at Northwest college students

Volunteeers stuff $2 bills into tobacco-use survey questionnaires
As an incentive to participate, Jane Cottrell (left) and other volunteeers stuff $2 bills into tobacco-use survey questionnaires to be mailed to college students at schools throughout the Northwest. Photo by Todd McNaught

Researchers in the Public Health Sciences Division have initiated a four-year study to test a tobacco-prevention and -cessation strategy on Pacific Northwest college campuses.

Led by Dr. Beti Thompson, the study, known as Campus Health Action on Tobacco (CHAT), is a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate whether a comprehensive tobacco control-program on college campuses can:

  • Decrease the proportion of students who take up smoking when they begin college.
  • Decrease the number of students who progress from occasional to regular tobacco use while in college.
  • Increase the number of students who quit smoking while in college.

It also aims to toughen campus tobacco-control policies.

Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the study is a collaboration with the Group Health Center for Health Promotion, the University of Washington's Department of Family Medicine, and the health departments of Oregon and Washington. Local coalitions also will be involved.

"Smoking onset during the college years now accounts for 11 percent of college smokers, and 29 percent of college smokers increase their use of tobacco during the college years," Thompson said.

"Little is known about smoking cessation among college students, and few intervention studies have been conducted to assist this population in achieving cessation."

Among other tactics, CHAT will provide an Internet site and phone hotline to help students quit smoking.

Colleges and universities in the intervention group will be expected to increase treatment opportunities for tobacco users, increase awareness of the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, increase the number of tobacco-free places on campus and decrease tobacco-product access, advertising and promotion.

Twenty-seven colleges and universities in Idaho, Oregon and Washington have agreed to participate.

The intervention group will get help in developing a comprehensive tobacco-control program on each campus. The 18-month intervention will begin in January.

College administrators at all institutions will be surveyed before the intervention phase and again in fall 2004 to assess campus smoking policies.

A final student survey will assess differences in smoking prevalence, smoking onset, smoking cessation and amount smoked between intervention and control colleges.


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