Vast Majority of UCR Staff, Students and Faculty Are Nonsmokers, Survey Shows

Most smokers fall into 18-to-24 age range; 86 percent of campus population says they are exposed to secondhand smoke


Students make up the majority of tobacco users at UCR, while staff make up the largest percentage of former users, according to a recent campus survey.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — A survey of 1,693 students, staff and faculty at UC Riverside has revealed that 84 percent of the campus population is made up of nonsmokers, but that 86 percent are exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis.

The survey, conducted during the first week of December 2012, provides a snapshot of campus smoking and tobacco use in advance of UCR becoming a smoke- and tobacco-free campus on Jan. 2, 2014. The move is part of a system-wide University of California ban. Of the 1,693 respondents, 797 were students, 747 were staff and 102 were faculty. Forty-seven did not disclose their affiliation.

This screenshot from the official report shows respondents concerns over exposure to second-hand smoke.

The survey showed that 86% of respondents have been exposed to second-hand smoke while at UCR.

Of the 86 percent of respondents who said they are exposed to secondhand smoke, 32 percent said they are exposed multiple times per day and 23 percent a few times a week. Only 13 percent responded that they are never exposed to smoke. A majority of respondents, 72 percent, expressed some concern about being exposed to secondhand smoke.

“Eighty-two percent of those people who were exposed to secondhand smoke multiple times per day described themselves as nonsmokers/tobacco users,” said Julie Chobdee, committee vice chair and coordinator of the UCR Wellness Program. “Creating a healthy environment for those who do not wish to be exposed to smoke is one of the paramount reasons for this policy.”

The survey showed that of the 12 percent who did smoke or use tobacco, a 46 percent are between 18 and 24 years old, with men outnumbering women 2-to-1. The data did not surprise Chobdee, who said, “Research has found that this age group is a vulnerable age group to initiate smoking/tobacco use.” She added, “This data allows us to target the appropriate groups with effective cessation services and awareness campaigns.”

This screenshot from the official report shows respondents concerns over exposure to second-hand smoke.

The majority of respondents expressed some concern over exposure to second-hand smoke.

The survey also revealed that 78 percent of the respondents who are current smokers and tobacco users had smoked at least a half pack or more during the last 30 days and that over the previous 12 months, 50 percent of current tobacco users said they had stopped using tobacco for at least a day or longer because they were trying to quit. Overall, 64 percent said they plan to quit using tobacco.

When asked what they thought the most effective way of promoting the policy would be, 49 percent of current smokers suggested that a combination of methods, including informational cards, verbal reminders, and cessation resources, would be the most beneficial.

One striking statistic in the survey was the difference between tobacco users and nonusers regarding their perception on how the policy will impact the overall health of the campus. Fifty-four percent of nonusers said the policy would help “very much,” while 59 percent of tobacco users said it would help “not at all.”

“As with any survey, the respondents are usually those who are most passionate about the subject in question. Consequently, the dramatic range in opinion is not surprising,” Chobdee said.

Tobacco-Free Steering Committee chair and chair of bioengineering Victor Rodgers said that he was pleased with the response rate on the survey and that it provides “adequate representation of the UCR population.”

“We captured survey responses through the chancellor’s campus-wide communication and distributed hard copy surveys to housing, dining, physical plant, and custodians/maintenance employees in both English and Spanish,” Rodgers said. “We feel we have a good representation and information to guide our efforts and the information received from the survey will provide us with a baseline as we move forward with the policy implementation.”

A PDF of the detailed report on the survey results may be downloaded here. For questions or additional information, send an email to

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756

Additional Contacts

Julie Chobdee
Tel: (951) 827-1488

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