Young adults’ use of non-cigarette alternative tobacco products is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. Yet, there is limited information available on the diversity of tobacco products used by young adults, the changes and patterns of use across time, and the impact of tobacco marketing on young adults’ use of non-cigarette alternatives. Many lifelong tobacco users start using tobacco products before the age of 26, making 18-26 year old college students an important and/or vulnerable population regarding use of tobacco and alternative tobacco products. Few tobacco prevention and control programs currently exist among colleges and universities in the United States and therefore are needed since nearly one-third of all college students use tobacco and alternative tobacco products. Our team is working on two initiatives focused on college populations.
The Texas College Tobacco Project, Peers Against Tobacco, is a system-level, multi-component tobacco prevention program for colleges and universities funded by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The goal of the program is to reduce the use of tobacco and alternative tobacco products (i.e. electronic cigarettes, hookah, smokeless tobacco, etc.) among college and university students and, ultimately, to change the overall tobacco landscape among Texas colleges and universities. The project consists of the following components:
A push for policy enhancement that includes assessing the current policy, and creating a plan of action for improving upon the current policy and determining appropriate ways to enforce it
Student-led advocacy groups will also be formed to carry out additional tobacco prevention and control activities. Stipends of up to $1000 are available to support campus groups working with us on this project. Campus administrators or student leaders who are interested in participating in this program can contact us here.
Systematic implementation of tobacco-free policies is important in supporting statewide tobacco-free prevention programs and in sustaining the momentum of tobacco control. However, the majority of Texas college campuses do not currently have a tobacco-free campus policy. To help address this, and as part of Peers Against Tobacco, the UT Tobacco Research & Evaluation Team has created resources to aid campuses in assessing and implementing campus tobacco policies. Students and administrators may use these resources to enhance their current policy, or to inform implementation of a new policy.
The Project M-PACT study is one of three FDA/NIH-funded studies housed at The Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science (TCORS) on Youth and Young Adults. This study will establish a rapid response surveillance system to monitor, and respond to, changes in tobacco marketing and trends in young adults’ use of non-cigarette alternatives, including flavored products. Our project team will track changes in young adults’ tobacco use, brand preferences, and tobacco use perceptions and beliefs over three years.
Surveys will be collected from students enrolled in 4-year colleges and 2-year vocational programs to identify factors that explain differences in the rate of tobacco use between these two populations. Differential tobacco marketing, which targets minority and lower SES individuals more heavily than other groups, has been identified as a likely reason for the different rates of tobacco use between these groups. To investigate the relationship, our project team will conduct ongoing direct observation of tobacco print advertisements, brand websites, direct mail/e-mail, and bar promotions. Data will characterize the tobacco marketing to which the two groups are exposed and in turn, examine the impact of marketing on changes in tobacco use over time.