SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that schools funded by the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office have lower rates of tobacco use than other schools, according to a comprehensive study by the University of California, San Diego. The findings were based on two statewide surveys, the 2016 California Student Tobacco Survey and the 2016 California Educator Tobacco Survey.
“This new study proves that our diligent efforts to promote tobacco-free schools are paying off,” said Torlakson. “Thanks to the work the tobacco prevention office has been doing since 1989, students are smoking less, and most public schools have signed up as tobacco-free. We also know that vaping is unsafe and unhealthy, and we need to continue encouraging all schools to include vaping bans in their tobacco-free schools policies.”
The study compared schools funded by the CDE’s TUPE Office with those that are not. It found about 10 percent more teachers in schools funded by the program reported their schools placed high priority on specific tobacco-prevention efforts such as targeting at-risk youth, providing peer-to-peer programs, holding schoolwide activities, and referring tobacco users to cessation services. Students at schools funded by the program were significantly less likely to smoke cigarettes or vape. The study also stressed the need to further strengthen education and prevention efforts regarding certain e-cigarettes products that are currently attracting attention from youth.
The research project was led by Dr. Shu-Hong Zhu, director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control and professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego. The findings were published in the Public Library of Science online journal, PLOS One. The co-authors included Sara B. McMenamin, Sharon E. Cummins, Yue-Lin Zhuang, Anthony C. Gamst, Carlos G. Ruiz, and Antonio Mayoral.
Through grant programs to county offices of education and school districts, the CDE’s TUPE Office allocates funds, assists, evaluates, and provides data reporting to school tobacco prevention programs for grades 6–12. Currently it administers and supports 262 grantees across California. It also promotes research-validated tobacco education and cessation programs and curricula.
The office works closely with the California Tobacco Education Research and Oversight Committee, California Department of Public Health, and University of California’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program to improve its programs and leadership. It also collaborates with non-state agencies such as California Youth Advocacy Network and Stanford School of Medicine in developing tobacco prevention related resources for local educational agencies.