Funding: Tobacco-related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) New Investigator Study
At the 2013 Health Equity Summit of the California Tobacco Control Program, establishing tobacco-free campuses at community colleges (CCs) was recognized as a top priority to reduce tobacco-related health disparities. California (CA) State Assembly Bill 1594 would have instantly achieved the state’s Health Equity priority to ban smoking and tobacco use in CCs, however, in 2016, the governor vetoed this bill.
As of 2018, only 52 of the 114 community college campuses have 100% smoke-free or tobacco-free policies, in stark contrast to CA’s 4-year public colleges which are all 100% tobacco-free.
Recognizing that community colleges are often more under-resourced and under-funded than 4-year colleges and that the community college student population is racially/ethnically diverse, disproportionately lower-income, and at greater risk for tobacco-related harms than other college students, it is vital to explain factors influencing the adoption of smoke-free policies and to identify best strategies to facilitate smoke-free policy adoption at remaining community colleges. Doing so is an important step towards achieving the state’s Health Equity goal of reducing tobacco-related disparities.
Importantly, as most community colleges are commuter campuses with little-to-no campus housing, this study looks beyond the campus to the community context in which community colleges are situated, and the tobacco environment it presents.
This TRDRP New Investigator Study will examine both campus and community influences on smoke-free policy adoption in community colleges. This study will involve various research methods, including analyses of tobacco control policy databases, school administrative records, survey data, Census and other types of data, along with case studies of 10 community colleges that include key informant interviews and site visits. Study findings will point to influential factors that may be intervened upon, and successful strategies that have been used, to facilitate the adoption of smoke-free policy at California community colleges. Findings of this nature can help with efforts to overcome institutional and other barriers to smoke-free policy adoption at the 62 community colleges that have not yet committed to a 100% smoke-free campus, and can point to more effective environmental strategies to reduce tobacco-related disparities.
Guided by the Social Ecological Model (SEM) and the Institutional Study of Inequalities in Smoking (ISIS) framework, this New Investigator Study will examine the intersection of campus and community influences on smoke-free policy adoption in California community colleges.
Specific aims include:
Aim 1: Investigate community college and community characteristics associated with adopting a 100% smoke-free policy, and document disparities in smoke-free policy adoption among California’s 114 community colleges.
Aim 2: Identify facilitators and barriers to adopting a 100% smoke-free policy, including school and community resources, and develop an action plan of strategies to support policy adoption at community colleges without 100% smoke-free policy.
This mixed-methods study will entail secondary analyses of school, Census, and tobacco-related behavior and policy data using longitudinal modeling in Aim 1, along with an in-depth study of community colleges through site visits and key informant interviews in Aim 2. Our conceptual framework applies a health equity lens to the Social Ecological Model and integrates the ISIS framework to examine policy adoption in the context of differential availability of health-promoting resources and differential exposure to risk factors in the schools and community contexts that promote tobacco use.
Results will help inform environmental strategies for policy adoption among the 62 community colleges without 100% smoke-free policy, and identify strategies to coordinate campus and community efforts to reduce tobacco use among community colleges students. This study will serve as a launching pad for the New Investigator’s research agenda to uncover health inequities within the community colleges setting and the communities in which they are situated, with the overall goal of reducing tobacco use and enhancing overall health and well-being for young adults in community colleges.