Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death, responsible for 480,000 deaths a year in the United States. Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 18, and 98% start smoking by age 26, making college and university campuses a critical target for tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts.
Last March, the Georgia Board of Regents, the body governing the 31 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia, unanimously approved a tobacco ban on all campuses effective October 1, 2014. The policy prohibits the use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, on any property owned, leased or operated by the University System, including outdoor areas and parking lots.
To assist Georgia’s colleges and universities in putting a tobacco-free policy in place, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) published a tool kit to guide campus leaders through adopting, implementing and enforcing tobacco bans. That tool kit is now being offered as a key national resource on the Tobacco-free College Campus Initiative (TFCCI) website.
“By offering a step-by-step approach to putting the policy in place, schools can get the support they need for their tobacco bans to succeed”, said Kenneth Ray, program manager for the Georgia Tobacco Use Prevention Program at DPH.
TFCCI was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2011 to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning across the United States. The Initiative collaborates closely with academic leaders, public health advocates, students, researchers, and other concerned citizens across the U.S. to accelerate the elimination of tobacco use on college campuses everywhere.
According to TFCCI, an increasing number of colleges and universities working to reduce tobacco use and exposure on campus are adopting comprehensive tobacco-free policies, just like the policy that will take effect in the fall in Georgia. Of campuses with policies in place, 811 out of 1,182 are fully tobacco-free, not just smoke-free.
The American College Health Association recommends that colleges and universities develop strongly worded tobacco-free policies that define tobacco as all tobacco-derived or containing products, including, but not limited to, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos, hookah-smoked products, and oral tobacco - spit and spitless, smokeless, chew, snuff.
To further support the Georgia Board of Regents and the recently adopted policy, DPH is sponsoring a Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities Summit on September 19, 2014. To be held at The University of Georgia in Athens, this one-day event will provide students, faculty, and staff among all Georgia public and private colleges and universities the tools needed to ensure a tobacco-free school environment. The Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities Summit will provide participants an interactive, step-by-step approach to putting the policy in place.
“Tobacco-free environments are one of the best ways to help smokers quit and protect everyone from the dangers of tobacco,” said Jean O’Connor, DrPH, director of health promotion and disease prevention for DPH. “We are honored to serve as a resource for colleges and universities throughout the state, and the country, as they move to protect the health of our best and brightest.”
For more information regarding the Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities Summit, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone, including teenagers, who need help quitting tobacco or nicotine, can contact the Georgia Tobacco Quitline:
English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
Spanish: 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863)
Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534
The Quitline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week