Evaluation of school tobacco-free policies in a rural northern plains state

Nancy L. Fahrenwald, Jennifer L. Kerkvliet, Paula Carson, Cristina Lammers, Sandra Melstad, Deetta Dugstad, Jim Mccord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called for tobacco-free school (TFS) policies. In South Dakota (SD), a rural state with a large American Indian population, collaboration between state agencies focused on development and dissemination of a model TFS policy in 2008. This study explored the current status of TFS policies in statewide SD school districts. METHODS: Tobacco policies were requested from all SD school district administrators. A 26-point checklist based on CDC TFS policy guidelines was used to evaluate policies. Follow-up interviews were conducted with selected superintendents. RESULTS: Policies were received from 144 of 217 districts (66% response). Participation was higher for public districts than tribal/Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) districts and nonpublic districts. The overall mean policy score was 11.6 (SD 5.1). Public school districts had the highest mean (12.3) followed by nonpublic (8.9) and tribal/BIE (7.5). In a subset of districts with a large American Indian population (>30%), policy scores were lower for those located on reservation or tribal lands compared with other locations. Barriers to policy development were identified as time and staff expertise. CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to improve statewide TFS policies. A district report card with recommendations for improvement and a resource guide were developed and disseminated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-831
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Health policy
  • South Dakota
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco-free school policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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