Universities and Tobacco: The Ties that Blind

Past and Present Relationships Between Academia and Cigarette Manufacturers

Although more than 1,750 colleges and universities in the United States alone have become smoke free campuses over the past 20 years (including nearly 1,500 that claim to have adopted entirely tobacco-free policies), progress in reducing cigarette, smokeless tobacco, and hookah use among U.S. university students has slowed. Prevalence may be as high as 25%. Globally, reported smoking prevalence among university students ranges from 14% in Brazil to 60% in Bangladesh.  Coordinated strategies to diminish the influence of the tobacco industry in academia are lagging and require greater attention by tobacco control proponents.  This illustrated exhibition explores the history of smoking on college campuses and efforts to end it. A little-studied obstacle to reducing tobacco use among university students and to exercising leadership in public health has been the financial relationships between the tobacco industry and academia, such as the presence of cigarette manufacturers at campus job fairs and investments in tobacco companies by university endowments.