A Mixed-Methods Assessment of a Peer-Enforced Tobacco- and Smoke-Free Policy at a Large Urban University

  • Amy Gatto
  • Sarah E. Powell
  • Emily F. Walters
  • Shahriar Zamani
  • Liberty B. Sales
  • Rita DeBateEmail author
Original Paper


The study aims to evaluate the enforcement, opinions, and effectiveness of the University of South Florida’s tobacco free policy one year following implementation. By assessing readiness to change and using geographic information system (GIS) mapping this study sought to introduce a unique and effective way of evaluating college tobacco free policies. A cross-sectional survey was administered to students, faculty, and staff to assess knowledge of policy and resources, tobacco use observations, stage change regarding policy enforcement, self-efficacy to enforce, and policy impact on perceived campus tobacco use (n = 5242). Additionally, using ArcGIS Collector (in: ESRI, ArcGIS desktop: release 10, Environmental Systems Research Institute, Redlands, 2011) volunteers collected geospatial data on tobacco use continuing to occur on campus following policy implementation. Overall there was moderate knowledge of the current policy and low beliefs for policy enforcement. Majority of respondents were not approaching violators to remind them of the policy and did not plan to do so in the future. There were statistically significant differences between smokers and non-smokers as well as between students and faculty and staff. The mapping of observed violations revealed continued tobacco use on campus with 158 data points. From both the geospatial results as well as the survey findings, the current policy is ineffective in reducing tobacco use across campus. With rapidly increasing numbers of smoke and tobacco free universities, new and innovative evaluation tools are needed so institution leaders can efficiently evaluate their implementation.


Tobacco use College student Tobacco-free policy Geographic information systems (GIS) Transtheoretical model 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Ethical Approval

This study was performed according to legal and ethical guidelines of the US and approval was granted by the Institutional Review Board of the university.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Gatto
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Powell
    • 1
  • Emily F. Walters
    • 1
  • Shahriar Zamani
    • 1
  • Liberty B. Sales
    • 1
  • Rita DeBate
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.University of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.College of Public HealthUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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