An impact evaluation of the Ontario ban on smoking in schools and on school property : does the ban on smoking influence high school students' intentions to smoke cigarettes?
Corbett, Bradley A.
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The Ontario Tobacco Control Act of 1994 imposed a total ban on smoking in schools, and on school property for every school in the province. The imposition of this policy created problems for school administrators. For instance, students who were smoking on walkways and properties adjacent to school boundaries, clashed with neighbouring property owners who were angry about the resulting damage and disruption. The enforcement of this policy consumes valuable resources at each school; therefore, knowledge about the impact of the policy is important. If effective, this policy has the potential to improve the health of students over their lifetime, by preventing or delaying smoking behaviour. Alternatively, an ineffective policy will continue to create administrative problems for the school and serve no legitimate purpose. Therefore, knowledge about the impact of the smoking ban policy on students' smoking intentions assists policy makers and school administrators in their understanding of the policy's impact within the schools. This research provided an impact evaluation of the ban on smoking in schools and on school property in Ontario. A total of 2069 students, from five high schools, in the Niagara Region, provided complete responses to a survey, designed to test whether smoking intentions were affected by the imposition of the policy. The study used Ajzen's theory of planned behaviour (Ajzen, 1991), specifically, the perceived behavioural control measure, to gain some understanding of students' perceptions of control over smoking imposed by the ban. The findings indicate the policy has the potential to influence students' overall smoking intentions. The ban on smoking policy was found to be a significant predictor of the smoking intentions of high school students. As well, attitude, social norms, and perceptions of control were significant predictors of smoking intentions. Exploratory findings also indicated differences between the control beliefs of students from different high schools, indicating potential differences in the enforcement of the smoking ban between schools. The findings also support the utility of the theory of planned behaviour as a methodology for evaluating the influence of punitive policies. This research study should be continued by utilizing the full theory of planned behaviour, including two phases of data collection and the measurement of actual smoking behaviour.
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