This study provides insight into the smoking prevalence, attitudes and behaviours of staff and students at a large Australian university. The findings indicate that the prevalence of any smoking in this study was low (9.8%), compared to smoking rates among the Australian adult population (17.4%) . However, the prevalence is similar to data previously collected from 17–24 year old students at this University (9.8% current daily smoking)  and from Australian TAFE staff (8.1% current daily smoking; 1.8% occasional smoker) . The low prevalence of smoking may however be due to selective non-response and under-reporting, with another university study suggesting non-respondents are more likely to be smokers than respondents .
Males were slightly underrepresented comprising only 37.7% of study participants. In 2011, 43% of staff members were male. Similarly, males comprised 46.4% of the 2011 student population. International students were under represented (21.3%) however they comprise 39.7% of the student population. Another study at this University also found males and international students to be underrepresented in online surveys .
Attitudes towards cigarette smoking were generally negative which reflects general attitudes in Australia . Similar to Western Australian trends  it was common for respondents of this study to prefer to socialise in smoke free environments (83.8%) and to date a non-smoker (84.8%). However respondents were less likely to ask others not to smoke around them (38.7%).This is consistent with other research which has found that ‘unempowered’ non-smokers in particular are not likely to act on smoking by others  which suggests a need to motivate and provide necessary skills to enable individuals and the community to vocalise concerns around exposure to secondary smoke.
Theory of Organisational Change highlights the importance of the adoption and implementation phase for tobacco control . Less than half of respondents (44%) were aware of the University’s current tobacco policy restrictions. School based studies have reported awareness of the policy and appropriate enforcement are essential to ensure compliance [26–28]. The implementation phase should include awareness raising strategies to ensure staff, students and visitors are aware of the new policy so as to encourage high levels of support. Additionally, reinforcing messages highlighting the adverse health effects of second-hand smoke have been found to improve acceptance and compliance with smoke free policies . Understanding the social and organisational norms that might support or undermine a smoking ban, will lead to more successful implementation of the policy.
There is a dearth of published data describing the impact of smoke-free policy on Australian Higher Education Campuses. Similar to studies on college campuses in the USA [30, 31] respondents in this study generally supported a smoke free policy, however, were less supportive of a complete ban on all campus grounds. While the majority of respondents in this study (91.3%) were supportive of campus buildings being smoke free, respondents were less likely to suggest the campus should be completely smoke free (65.7%). Given the acceptance of policy implementation and the positive changes in social norms towards smoking over the last few decades in Australia the reluctance from these respondents may reflect a conflict between norms of distal groups and the norms held by an individual or an individual’s proximal reference groups [32, 33]. These attitudes may also be influenced by feelings of concern around stigma smokers may experience . In their study Poland and colleagues (2012) found ‘reluctant’ and ‘easygoing’ smokers were supportive of smoking restrictions as long as they were implemented sensitively and supported with appropriate messages. Australian data has found smoking restrictions in public places (11.2%) and at workplaces (7%) to be motivators to successfully quit smoking . In view of these findings it is anticipated a complete smoking ban is also likely to positively contribute to social norms of this population group. Most respondents in this study reported exposure to second-hand smoke (79.5%) and most agreed that second-hand smoke was harmful to their health (84.1%). There is a body of research that describes the effectiveness of a smoke free policy in reducing the harm associated with exposure to second-hand smoke [7, 35]. Increasing the awareness of the health benefits that a total campus ban on smoking provides is essential when implementing a smoke free policy . Health has been found to be the main motivator for quitting smoking; followed by the cost . Consistent with these findings the implementation phase of the policy  should incorporate motivators for change; in particular an emphasis on the health and economic benefits of quitting smoking.
Despite the proven benefits in terms of reducing exposure to second-hand smoke [7, 35] and the successes in reducing the prevalence of cigarette smoking [6, 22] there are health issues that need to be considered during the adoption and implementation of a workplace smoke-free policy. Research indicates that workplace smoke-free bans (WSB) have a positive relationship with self-perceived work-related stress, especially among males and young adults (18–40 years) . Additionally, it has been reported that employees who left workstations to smoke outside their building, smoked their cigarettes 19% ‘harder’ than in social settings .
Due to addictive nature of nicotine, smokers may seek private areas to smoke within a restricted workplace. This may have implications as staff experience isolation, guilt and stigma. Others have found smoke free workplaces to contribute to stigma among smokers  and there is a need for evaluation of the unintended negative effects of policy for smokers . The safety of smokers is also an issue for staff and students on a large university campus, as they may seek unsafe private areas to smoke in, moving from offices or classrooms to the outskirts of the campus including in the evenings. It may also impact negatively on those students living in on-campus housing who are no longer able to smoke in the grounds of their ‘home’. Studies have reported negative consequences, especially in regard to safety issues for women, who smoke outside bars . These issues pose challenges for implementation and significant efforts should be made to ensure the needs of smokers are addressed. Consistent with best practice in health promotion  a comprehensive range of strategies, which include support for smokers, are most likely to have optimal outcomes.
Enforcement of a smoke-free policy is imperative and has been found to be predictive of successful implementation. School based research suggests consistently enforced policy is the best predictor of adherence [26–28]. Respondents in this study suggested a range of transparent enforcement strategies. Although almost three-quarters of respondents (students: 74.7%; staff: 70.4%) reported that a total smoke-free policy would have a positive impact on staff and student quality of life, the reported positive impact on student learning (56%) and student enrolments(40.8%) were much less. Given that the attitudes towards a smoke-free campus are positive, the association with a better quality of life is implicit and may indicate a better acceptance of the policy.
Although the response rate to this study was low, the results provide a snapshot of attitudes towards policy implementation at a large and diverse university campus. Respondents were slightly biased in that a greater proportion of non-smokers, females and domestic students participated compared to the university demographics however others have also found this to occur in university studies . Selective non-response and underreporting may have biased these results. The disproportionate representation of non-smokers may have resulted in more positive attitudes towards the policy than smokers may have presented. As is consistent with previous data from this university  the prevalence of smoking was lower than the general Australian population. Other studies have found non-responders are more likely to be smokers . The limitations of the study should be considered when reviewing the results.