Tobacco use is the number one preventable public health problem we face. The personal and economic costs of tobacco use are nothing less than catastrophic. Worldwide, smoking will cause 450 million premature deaths in the next 50 years.(1) At least 170 million of these deaths could be avoided if current smoking rates were cut in half. In Ontario alone, tobacco kills 12,000 people annually, leads to 1 million hospital days annually, and cost $1.1 billion annually in health care expenditures.(2)
Although there have been modest reductions in smoking rates among adolescents and adults, tobacco use continues to be highest among young adults in Canada.(3) Approximately 28% of young adults smoke cigarettes, 3 with 10% of young adult smokers reporting that they smoking after the age of 18. (4)
On university campuses, up to 40% of students smoke cigarettes at least occasionally. (5-10) Most of these smokers want to quit, but few have the resources to successfully do so. (8-10)
Despite these disturbingly high smoking rates, young adults in general, and post-secondary students in particular, have been largely ignored by public health strategies addressing cigarette smoking. (11) This is unfortunate for a number of reasons. First, there are 713,800 young adults (ages 20-24) in Ontario; 370,050 (52%) of them attend school.12 This represents a sizable, and relatively homogeneous, population with which to intervene. Second, because their time in post-secondary institutions represents a transitional stage, chances of changing young adultsâ€™ smoking behaviours may be enhanced.(6, 8, 13) Third, considering that policies and social influences in most campus environment promote rather than deter smoking, 14-18 counter messages and actions are needed. Finally, the insular nature of campus life and the mobility of this population require that unique, student-focused programming using campus-specific channels of communication be implemented.(9, 11, 14, 17, 18)
Strategies to address smoking on university campuses include educating everyone about the extreme toxicity of second hand smoke; developing and supporting policies which help smokers to quit and protect non-smokers from second hand smoke; and countering the predatory and manipulative practices of the tobacco industry. Unfortunately, availability and effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions, tobacco control policies and industry denormalization activities on post-secondary campuses have not always kept pace with the emerging need for them. (9, 11, 14-20)LTPB was developed as a response to this need. LTPB is designated to reach all students on campus â€“ whether they smoke a little, a lot, or not at all. BY using as many resources as possible, LTPB aims to create an atmosphere which promotes healthy choices around smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.