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AlSuwaiji, Ghassemi, Emara, Mohseni, and Majid: Impact of the smoking ban policy on students at the University of Sharjah

Introduction: The smoking ban policy will encourage smokers to quit smoking and will maintain the health of non-smokers by reducing their exposure to passive smoking. This ban policy was launched at the end of 2010. It prohibited any form of smoking in Sharjah University City, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. This study describes the psychosocial and behavioural impact of the Sharjah smoke-free ban policy among the University of Sharjah (UOS) students.

Objectives: To determine the impact of the smoking ban policy on students at the UOS.

Materials and methods: Equal numbers of students were randomly chosen from the Men’s, Women’s, Fine Arts and Medical campuses. The research design was cross-sectional (observational), non-experimental descriptive. The sample was selected based on convenience. A self-administered structured questionnaire related to demographic data, knowledge, awareness, opinion, smoking habits and its impact, was distributed to 400 students. IBM SPSS Statistics version 19 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) was used to enter and analyse the data. Percentage frequencies, correlations and chi-squared tests were used to conduct analyses. Pie charts and bar charts were used to present the results. A P-value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: The study showed that the tobacco ban policy did not affect the consumption of cigarettes; it made smokers go off campus to smoke (38%), which led many of them to miss classes (47%). Only a few smokers were planning to quit (16%) and use anti-smoking medications (15%). The decision of non-smokers to start smoking was not affected by the ban policy, proven by their attitude towards smoking on campus (ignoring it). In the colleges more than half of the students, mainly non-smokers and females, supported the ban policy.

Conclusions: Ultimately the smoking ban policy had minimal effect on reducing the total number of smokers and non-smokers decision to start smoking, therefore it should be accompanied by awareness programmes targeting smokers.

Acknowledgements: Research supervisors Mrs Amal Hussein and Dr Nahed Abdelkhalek.

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