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Public Policy and Administration


Dana-Marie Thomas


AbstractCigarette smoking is the number one preventable cause of death and disability in the United States. Although there are policies that govern the use of tobacco products, there are jurisdictions that do not employ these policies. Comprehensive smokefree laws govern private-sector entities and prohibit smoking in public places, specifically restaurants, bars, and workplaces. While states have the authority to implement these laws, some include exceptions that limit the intention of the law. Colleges and universities are specific communities for learning and serve as housing for students and an employer for the greater community. There is a gap in the literature about the ability of these institutions to create healthy, sustainable, and just environments for its students in the absence of a comprehensive smokefree law in Georgia. The gap was examined through the theoretical framework of Benet’s polarities of democracy through in-depth interviews of 10 college and university administrators in the state of Georgia. Findings suggest that portions of the polarities of democracy are present in a rather exclusive policymaking process on these campuses. The absence of a comprehensive smokefree law appears to be independent of the policymaking process. The results have a positive implication for social change, as it provides context for why comprehensive smokefree laws are important for the ability of these institutions to provide healthy, sustainable, and just communities for their students, faculty, staff, and the community it serves.