A new study shows that just over one-tenth of the U.S. News & World Report's top 100 universities allow students to purchase tobacco using campus debit cards, which are often filled by money from student loans, grants and scholarships or money from parents.
The research from the University of Colorado Cancer Center, published in the British Medical Journal: Tobacco Control, found 11 schools allow campus debit cards to pay for tobacco, and 13 permit them for use to purchase e-cigarettes.
Campus debit cards are typically pre-paid and attached to a student's regular university ID.
Not withstanding the critique of making it easier for students to buy cigarettes, consumer advocates have frequently criticized colleges for using campus debit cards because they often carry higher, unnecessary fees. In return, the universities often collect fees or bonuses for signing up students to these campus debit cards, which carry the school logo, suggesting approval by the college.
The study's authors noted it adds to previous research from Temple University showing that among young smokers, 42 percent who had purchased cigarettes using college debit cards were more likely to be daily smokers.
The authors further criticized universities for allowing students to use these cards at vendors in a preferred network to buy smokes because it sends a message smoking is a "socially acceptable behavior."
A news release about the research did not name which schools allow students to use "campus cash" to buy smokes.