Executive Summary and Report


Tobacco Free U: 2015 New York State Dean’s List


More than 4 out of 10 New York colleges now prohibit smoking on campus

Smoke-free (SF) and tobacco-free (TF) campus policies are a growing trend across the country and in New York State. A SF campus policy means no smoking is allowed anywhere on college property or in college vehicles.  In contrast, a TF campus policy prohibits all forms of tobacco use, anywhere on college property and in college-owned vehicles, including smokeless forms of tobacco, and in most cases, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

Evidence suggests that short-term exposure to secondhand smoke, even outdoors, puts people at increased risk, especially those with pre-existing cardiac and pulmonary illness.3 In addition to reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, SF and TF campus policies help to reduce the initiation of tobacco use among young people and assist youths and adults who are trying to quit smoking.

Between July 2014 and June 2015, electronic surveys were sent to college administrators at 201 colleges and universities in New York State and analyzed to ascertain current tobacco use policy.  High response rates were achieved (83%). If no information was provided by a college, data were obtained via the college’s website. Criteria were then applied to these data to generate a grade for each college. For colleges reporting a SF or TF policy, an additional compliance score was calculated based on several questions in the survey, to produce a plus or a minus grade.

The grades and results are as follows:

A = 100% Tobacco-free campus policy:                                             60 Colleges (30%)

B = 100% Smoke-free campus policy:                                                25 Colleges (12%)

C = Designated smoking area policy:                                                 37 Colleges (19%)

D = Few if any restrictions of tobacco use on campus:                      63 Colleges (31%)

I = Incomplete (active planning process for a SF or TF policy):        15 Colleges (8%)

This report documents the robust trend in SF and TF campus policy adoption across New York State which may have contributed to significant reductions in tobacco use among young adults in the state.

 Major Findings


  • Eighty-five colleges in New York (42%) are either smoke-free or tobacco-free. A 28% increase in SF or TF policy implementation since 2012.


  • Half of New York’s colleges (50%) have implemented or are in the process of establishing either a 100% SF or a TF campus policy.


  • There has been more than a 40-fold increase in the number of colleges in New York State that have adopted SF or TF policies since 2005 (from 2 to 86 schools with a SF or TF policy).


  • While private or independent colleges make up nearly 60% of all colleges in New York, only 35% of them are SF or TF compared to more than half of public schools (52%).


  • As a percentage, private colleges in New York are twice as likely to have a D grade as a public campus.


  • As a percentage, public colleges and universities are more than twice as likely to be preparing to implement a SF or TF campus policy compared to New York’s private colleges.


  • New York has the largest number of SF or TF college campuses of any state in the country.


  • More than 2/3 of campuses with a SF or TF campus appear to have good to very good compliance with the policy.