Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Survey Results: 93% Support a Smoke-Free Campus

(Click on images to enlarge)

If you would like me to calculate specific combinations and post results here, please feel free to ask by commenting below. For example, you can ask: How many Virginians smoke? How many undergraduates support a 100% smoke-free campus?

We also have over 250 comments from the survey respondents. If you are interested in reading them, please e-mail one of the committee members or the students in the GSR 231, Back to Nature course (names listed on right sidebar of this blog).


Anonymous said...

Wow, your headline and subsequent conclusion are quite misleading. How do you conclude that smoking in designated areas is considered a "smoke-free" environment? Based on the results presented, less than half of the respondents desired a complete ban; the remaining majority are amenable to some form of compromise.

Regarding the survey data itself, what percentage of the entire community do these results represent? The sample size presented is 601. What is the size of the entire community?

These were unique responses, correct? As this was a voluntary, opt-in survey with no apparent limits on the number of submissions, were duplicate responses from individuals properly identified and excluded?

As far as presentation, the survey was announced with built-in spin -- the organizers of a biased site create a survey. The managing group then asks the (regular?) readers of its site to record their opinion on the sole, politically charged topic that is the cause of the formation of said organization. The lack of independent polling is a red flag on the entire process.

Without further information on the vetting process, I have doubts about any conclusions that may be gleaned.

raychelle said...


Good questions, and I'm glad you asked!

Google "smoke-free" and you'll find it used by many colleges and universities (as well as hospitals, churches and so on) as a property that is smoke-free but with designated areas.

American Lung Association makes the distinction between "100% smoke-free" and "smoke-free", defining the latter as smoke-free with designated areas. This means people cannot walk around on campus smoking, they have to walk to a specific designated area and light their cigarette there, and complete their smoking there. That is what smoke-free property means. 93% support a smoke-free campus with a range from 100% smoke-free (43%), to smoke-free with a designated area (22%) and to smoke-free with several designated areas (28%), finally, with 7% supporting a smoking campus.

For an example, see here: http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/smokefreecollegesuniversities.pdf

The students were simply following the terms and definitions used by others. Most of the questions in their survey were borrowed from University of Denver's survey of their students, faculty and staff.

See here: http://www.dath.org/pdf/Faculty-Staff%20Tobacco%20Survey%20Spring08.pdf

To answer your second question about the size of the entire community, the size of each cohort and the percentages are answered in slide 3.

Like with any IRB approved surveys (online or on paper) the students were unable to ask for identifying information to screen for duplicate entries. More fancier survey protocols can be put in place to separate identifying information, IP addresses, and control for duplicate responses, however, this was a student-run, simple survey. After a Student Body Government-run forum on smoking policy at Gallaudet on Wednesday, they opened the online version/paper version for a week the very next day (Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday Wednesday) and closed it on Wednesday at 1 pm after they satisfied the 20% response rate from faculty, undergraduates and graduate students.

If you look at the first slide, the survey was created by a group of students in a course called GSR 231. I asked them for permission to post the results on this site.

In my own personal opinion, no one creates a survey without a bias. There is no such thing as a "neutral" survey. Everyone has a vested interest in the outcome, what can be done is to make sure everyone has access to the survey, regardless of their stance on the topic.

Please do not hesitate to ask more questions. Thanks for asking.

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