Keeping Students Healthy for Years to Come

Tobacco-free school policies protect kids from secondhand smoke and discourage them from starting smoking

Children spend nearly 1,000 hours at school each year. While schools should be a safe, healthy place for kids to learn, many Colorado schools still allow smoking and tobacco use on their campuses, exposing students to health risks and promoting unhealthy addictions.


The dangers of tobacco use on school campuses

Allowing smoking at schools exposes kids — as well as teachers and staff — to dangerous secondhand smoke. Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause a number of health problems in children, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections and ear infections. In adults, it can cause coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.1


But are kids still using tobacco?

One out of five Colorado middle and high school students have smoked a cigarette, and nearly half of them have vaped.2 In fact, each year, more than 3,400 Colorado kids become new daily smokers;3 nearly 90 percent of adult cigarette smokers first tried tobacco before the age of 18.4

And adolescents aren’t just smoking at parties — many are smoking at school, too. One study of students age 15-18 found that over half had experienced secondhand smoke on school property in the past month.5


So how do we protect kids?

Implement a tobacco-free school policy. In addition to protecting kids from secondhand smoke, studies have shown that tobacco-free spaces are proven to encourage them to never starting smoking.6 One study stated: “Regulations restricting smoking in public places appear to have a considerable impact on teenage smoking behavior … [and] affect the teenager’s decision to become a smoker.”7


Keep kids healthy, both now and in the future, by supporting tobacco-free schools.


1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Let’s Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free: Your Guide to the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health. [PDF–795 KB] Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2016 Jan 11].
2. Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 2015.
3. U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS). (n.d.). New underage daily smoker estimate based on data from “Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,”. State share of national initiation number based on CDC data on future youth smokers in each state compared to national total
4. Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2016, from
5. Smoke-Free School Policy and Exposure to Secondhand Smoke: A Quasi-Experimental Analysis. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Volume 18, Issue 2, 1 February 2016, Pages 170–176,
6. American Lung Association. Creating Tobacco-Free Schools. l / Gilpin, E.A.; Emery, S.L.; Farkas, A.J.; Distefan, J.M.; White, M.M.; Pierce, J.P., “The California Tobacco Control Program: a decade of progress, results from the California Tobacco Survey, 1990-1999 – final report,” Sacramento: California Department of Health Services, Tobacco Control Section (TCS) La Jolla: University of California, San Diego, December 26, 2001
7. Wasserman, J. [et al.], “The effects of excise taxes and regulations on cigarette smoking,” Journal of Health Economics, 10: 43-64, 1991.