The California Student Tobacco Survey (CSTS) is administered biennially with the purpose of measuring the statewide adolescent use rates of tobacco and marijuana. In addition to questions about use, the survey examines student attitudes and exposure to these products, as well as perceptions of harm associated with their use.
This research study is funded by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in collaboration with the California Department of Education (CDE) Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Office. The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is under contract to conduct the survey.
The CSTS has been administered biennially to California middle and high schools since 2001. Schools are randomly selected to participate, with sampling stratified by geographic region. When sampling requirements are met, this type of stratification allows for the provision of local-level data.
In accordance with the California Health & Safety Code (HSC), Section 104375(c), CDPH and the California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP) are required to oversee the CSTS to provide surveillance of the tobacco use prevalence rates among students. The survey was conducted by WestEd from academic years 2001–02 until 2011–12. In 2013, UCSD was selected and contracted to conduct the CSTS, starting with the 2015–16 survey.
- Administer the California Student Tobacco Survey (CSTS) to obtain statewide tobacco prevalence rates for students in grades 8, 10, and 12.
- Determine whether the introduction of new and emerging tobacco products (such as vapes, hookah, and cigarillos) has changed the social norms regarding tobacco use among youth.
- Examine the trends in use of multiple products (traditional tobacco, vapes, and marijuana).
- Conduct a parallel survey of educators to compare attitudes between students and educators and between schools with and without funding for Tobacco-Use Prevention Education (TUPE).
This surveillance provides critical data to inform tobacco control and prevention education, programming, and research. Data are used to inform the CDPH and California Department of Education (CDE), which fund tobacco prevention programs, about the use of, exposure to, and susceptibility to future use of tobacco and other products among California students. Results are also used to inform larger research and public health communities through scientific presentations and journal articles about tobacco issues among California youth.
Participating schools will receive a $500 gift card and a unique profile report highlighting their school’s key results.
Benefits of the CSTS
- Students’ participation will help your school obtain representative information about tobacco use behavior at the school, county, and state levels. This information will help shape programmatic activities and increase awareness to better serve your students.
- When a school has successfully administered the survey, it will receive a school profile that provides data on students’ current tobacco use rates, susceptibility, access (including information on purchase and social sources), offers, secondhand exposure, and home bans.
What to do
- If your school has been randomly sampled to participate, please direct your UCSD-CSTS Specialist to a staff member at your school who can help to coordinate the survey administration. This can be the principal, assistant principal, testing coordinator, tobacco/drug prevention counselor, etc.
- Once we receive this information, your UCSD-CSTS Specialist will send you further instructions and guidance on survey administration.
Benefits of the CSTS
- Your child’s participation will help the school obtain representative information about tobacco use behavior at the school, county, and state levels. This information will help shape programmatic activities and increase awareness to serve the youth in your community.
- When a school has successfully administered the survey, it will receive a school profile that provides data on current tobacco use rates, susceptibility, access (including information on purchase and social sources), offers, secondhand exposure, and home bans.
What to do
- If your child’s school is participating, teachers will distribute consent forms for students to take home. Information about the premise of the survey, its potential risks and benefits, and confidentiality measures have been included in the form.
- Parental consent forms may be found here. In most schools, you only need to sign and return this form if you do not wish your child to participate.
For more information, please click here for a letter of support from the California Department of Education (CDE).
Instructions for survey coordinators and teacher/proctors are available here:
Resources for the CSTS administration are available below.
For more information, contact the project team via email or phone at (858) 300-1088.