Presentation Title (IN ALL CAPS)

TOBACCO-FREE SCHOOLS IN TEXAS: A CALL FOR POLICY REFORM

Departmental Affiliation and City, State, Zip for All Authors

Department of Life and Health Sciences Dallas, Texas 75241

Classification

Non-UNTHSC Faculty

Research Presentation Category

Community Health and Prevention

Layperson Narrative or Summary (3-5 sentences)

Laws prohibiting the possession and use of tobacco products in the school environment are an integral part of the tobacco control framework in Texas. However, findings of this study suggest that disparities in prescribing penalties for tobacco use in the school environment may exist between open-enrollment charter schools and public school districts in Texas. As open enrollment charter schools continue to provide educational options for school children in Texas additional research may be necessary to understand whether the current law lacks sufficient specificity to prevent the availability, exposure and use of tobacco products in the school environment.

Scientific Abstract

Laws prohibiting the possession and use of tobacco products in the school environment (both on and off school campuses) are an integral part of the tobacco control framework of many state and local governments in the United States. Yet, no statewide data on tobacco-free school law in Texas have previously been published. Data from the 2014-2015 Texas School Health Survey were analyzed to determine whether local education agencies (public school districts and open-enrollment charter schools) prescribed penalties for violations of tobacco possession and use restrictions in the school environment, as required by state law. Data were obtained from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) through a public information request. These data were matched to publicly-available demographic data from the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core Data file and the Small, Rural School Achievement Program using a unique identifier to generate descriptive statistics (school type, community type, and economic disadvantage) for each local education agency. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were performed to measure whether penalties for violations of tobacco-free schools laws differed by school type, community type, and economic disadvantage. All analyses were conducted using STATA 14.2 (StataCorp, College Station, 2015). Statistical significance was determined at the 95% confidence interval and a p-value. Of the 1,249 local education agencies in Texas, TEA received 728 (58%) non-duplicative or ineligible survey response. Nearly all the local education agencies (97.7%) had prescribed penalties for tobacco use in the school environment. Most local education agencies were rural (71.8%), economically disadvantaged (53.8%), with predominately White Non-Hispanic student populations (58.0%).). No significant differences were observed for community type (F=0.91, p < 0.91) or economic disadvantage (F=1.12, p < 0.29). However, there is a statistically significant difference in prescribed penalties for tobacco use on school property (F = 8.09, p < 0.00) suggesting disparities in prescribing penalties for tobacco use in the school environment might exist between open-enrollment charter schools and public school districts in Texas. Open enrollment charter schools continue to provide educational options for schoolchildren and their families. However, additional research may be necessary to understand whether the current law lacks sufficient specificity to protect school-aged children and youth from tobacco use and exposure in all school environments in light of emerging educational options for Texas school children. Targeted oversight and surveillance of Texas’ tobacco-free schools policies should seek to provide state policymakers, school boards, and school health professionals timely information to shape more responsive public health policies, programs, and practices to prevent the availability, exposure and use of tobacco products in the school environment. Keywords: school policies, tobacco use, adolescents

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TOBACCO-FREE SCHOOLS IN TEXAS: A CALL FOR POLICY REFORM

Laws prohibiting the possession and use of tobacco products in the school environment (both on and off school campuses) are an integral part of the tobacco control framework of many state and local governments in the United States. Yet, no statewide data on tobacco-free school law in Texas have previously been published. Data from the 2014-2015 Texas School Health Survey were analyzed to determine whether local education agencies (public school districts and open-enrollment charter schools) prescribed penalties for violations of tobacco possession and use restrictions in the school environment, as required by state law. Data were obtained from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) through a public information request. These data were matched to publicly-available demographic data from the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core Data file and the Small, Rural School Achievement Program using a unique identifier to generate descriptive statistics (school type, community type, and economic disadvantage) for each local education agency. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were performed to measure whether penalties for violations of tobacco-free schools laws differed by school type, community type, and economic disadvantage. All analyses were conducted using STATA 14.2 (StataCorp, College Station, 2015). Statistical significance was determined at the 95% confidence interval and a p-value. Of the 1,249 local education agencies in Texas, TEA received 728 (58%) non-duplicative or ineligible survey response. Nearly all the local education agencies (97.7%) had prescribed penalties for tobacco use in the school environment. Most local education agencies were rural (71.8%), economically disadvantaged (53.8%), with predominately White Non-Hispanic student populations (58.0%).). No significant differences were observed for community type (F=0.91, p < 0.91) or economic disadvantage (F=1.12, p < 0.29). However, there is a statistically significant difference in prescribed penalties for tobacco use on school property (F = 8.09, p < 0.00) suggesting disparities in prescribing penalties for tobacco use in the school environment might exist between open-enrollment charter schools and public school districts in Texas. Open enrollment charter schools continue to provide educational options for schoolchildren and their families. However, additional research may be necessary to understand whether the current law lacks sufficient specificity to protect school-aged children and youth from tobacco use and exposure in all school environments in light of emerging educational options for Texas school children. Targeted oversight and surveillance of Texas’ tobacco-free schools policies should seek to provide state policymakers, school boards, and school health professionals timely information to shape more responsive public health policies, programs, and practices to prevent the availability, exposure and use of tobacco products in the school environment. Keywords: school policies, tobacco use, adolescents