Do State Expenditures on Tobacco Control Programs Decrease Use of Tobacco Products Among College Students?

State tobacco-control programs have the potential to reduce tobacco use among youth by preventing them from starting smoking and encouraging smokers to quit or reduce their smoking. Recent studies consistently have demonstrated that higher state-level expenditures on tobacco control programs are associated with lower levels of per-capita cigarette sales, lower prevalence of teenage smoking and higher levels of negative beliefs about smoking.

This study builds on that prior work by looking at prevalence attempts to quit smoking, and the use of smokeless tobacco and cigars with college students, a demographic group not previously studied.

Using data from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study for students at four-year colleges across the country, researchers measured the prevalence and intensity of smoking, as well as attempts to quit.

The findings indicate that higher state spending on tobacco control in the prior year is associated with increased attempts to quit and reductions in daily smoking and cigar use by college students. If all states were to fund their tobacco-control programs at minimum levels recommended by the CDC, daily smoking would be reduced by 16 percent and cigar use by 38 percent. Quit attempts would rise 10 percent for daily smokers.