News Releases

August 26, 2004


Ottawa –A student-led research project has uncovered extensive tobacco industry marketing in Canadian universities and colleges and widespread participation of university and college administrations in these marketing activities.

“Every university and half of the colleges we surveyed received money to market tobacco products within the past year,” said Isabelle Tremblay, one of 20 young adult researchers who collaborated on a survey of 35 post-secondary institutions during the early months of 2004. “Instead of protecting students from tobacco industry marketing, our colleges and universities are profiting from it.” Tremblay was completing her studies in public health at Laval University at the time of the study.

“Campus newspapers, bars and stores have contracts to promote tobacco products,” explained Roman Pabayo, who participated in the study while a student of nutrition at McGill University. “In the past year, most universities and half of the colleges ran tobacco industry-related advertising in the campus newspaper, and about a quarter of campuses hosted a tobacco company-sponsored concert or event. Further, three-quarters of universities and half of colleges sell tobacco.”

The survey also found that, in addition to allowing tobacco marketing, fewer than half of university and college administrations protected students from second hand smoke or had programs to help smokers quit.

“Post-secondary students have a right to choose whether or not to smoke; however, their universities and colleges should not be complicit in encouraging them to do so,” said David Hammond, a Ph.D. candidate at Waterloo University who led the team of student researchers. “Although financial need was cited as the primary reason for accepting money for tobacco promotions, it must not be met at the expense of student health. In short, university administrations and student executives must take action to ensure they are not allowing tobacco promotion to their student body.”

Earlier this month, Health Canada reported that university and college-aged students smoked at almost a 50% higher rate than the general population. Smoking rates jumped from 18% for Canadians aged 15-19 to 30% for those aged 20-24, according to the 2003 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey (CTUMS).

The survey was conducted for Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada with funding from Health Canada. A full report of the survey findings, along with further background and policy recommendations from this project, is available at www.smoke-free.ca/campus.

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