Despite potential benefits of tobacco-free campus policies, compliance remains a challenge. Observational measures hold the most promise in determining compliance with these policies. There is need for further study to determine validity of observational measures of compliance with tobacco-free campus policies. The purpose of this study was to determine the validity of two observational measures of compliance with a tobacco-free campus policy: direct observation of violators and cigarette butts. Data collection took place over a 1-year time period. Direct observation was operationally defined as the number of observed violators in hot spots. A cigarette butt protocol previously found to be reliable was used to count the number of butts in campus hot spots. Results indicated a positive relationship between number of violators observed per visit and number of cigarette butts collected. Although most of the hot spots exhibited two or fewer violators per visit and 100 butts or fewer per collection, the data points outside this range supported a positive association between observed violators per visit and cigarette butts. The findings support that direct observation of violators is a valid measure of compliance compared to cigarette butts. Given available resources, using one or the other as evaluation measures is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 25 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Society for Public Health Education.


  • college
  • compliance
  • measurement
  • policy
  • tobacco-free

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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