Tobacco Tracker: A New Tool to Support College Smoke and Tobacco Free Policies

Kim Pulvers, Myra Rice, Susan Le Roy Stewart, Elisa Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: University community members are critical to the success of their smoke and tobacco free (STF) policies. The present study evaluates changes in social enforcement-related attitudes and behaviors following introduction of a new online Tobacco Tracker tool in two university settings. METHODS: Campus wide surveys were administered to current students, faculty, and staff at two California public universities with 100% STF policies before (November 2018; N = 5078) and after (December 2019-January 2020; N = 4853) introduction of Tobacco Tracker in February 2019. Prospective surveillance reports over 12 months from Tobacco Tracker, a GIS tool for the campus community to report tobacco use and related litter that displays crowdsourced maps of hotspots, were analyzed. Outcomes included awareness and self-reported use of a tobacco reporting tool, readiness for policy social enforcement, an Intellectual Social Affective (ISA) Engagement scale, and environmental surveillance reports from Tobacco Tracker. RESULTS: In campus surveys, awareness of a tobacco reporting tool doubled (8.0%-16.9%, p < .0001), use of an online reporting tool tripled (1.1%-3.2%, p < .0001), and readiness to enforce the policy increased (p = .0008). ISA engagement did not change (p = .72). In Tobacco Tracker campus reports (N = 1163), active tobacco use was reported more frequently than tobacco-related litter. CONCLUSIONS: Tobacco Tracker is a promising tool for college communities to support STF policy. Introduction of Tobacco Tracker was associated with an increase in campus awareness and utilization of a reporting tool, readiness to enforce policy, and campus tobacco surveillance. Future research should determine how Tobacco Tracker may improve policy compliance. IMPLICATIONS: Tobacco Tracker is a promising tool for college communities to support smoke and tobacco free (STF) policy through active surveillance of smoking, vaping, and related litter on campus. Introduction of Tobacco Tracker was associated with changes in social enforcement-related attitudes and behaviors critical to realizing the preventive potential of STF policies. A crowdsourcing-based tool for monitoring tobacco use on college campuses can address a major barrier to social enforcement: discomfort confronting tobacco users. Further, it provides an alternative to punitive enforcement approaches and promises a sustainable solution to an infrastructure issue faced by many universities lacking resources to collect data on campus tobacco use and related litter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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