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DPH to Host Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities Summit

September 2, 2014

All 31 of Georgia’s public colleges and universities are going 100% tobacco-free on October 1, as the result of a policy passed this year by the Board of Regents. 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.

In Georgia, smoking rates among our youth are declining, but smoking remains high among those in the 18-24 year age range, and is significantly higher than the national average.

“This important change on our college campuses gives Georgia’s most promising young adults a chance to go to college and graduate without starting to use tobacco,” said Jean O’Connor, Dr.Ph., J.D., DPH’s director of chronic disease prevention.

To help universities and colleges communities prepare to successfully transition to tobacco-free environments, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) will hold the 2014 Tobacco-Free Colleges and Universities Summit on Friday, September 19th at the University of Georgia in Athens. The Summit will provide students, faculty, and staff among all Georgia public and private colleges and universities, who are concerned about the health and wellness of their campus community, the tools and information to successfully implement the tobacco-free campus policy. Private colleges that have successfully gone tobacco-free or that are interested in working toward healthier environments are invited to attend as well.

More than 100 people from 50 institutions and organizations across Georgia have already registered to attend. Attendees will celebrate the successes of Georgia schools as well as receive information and training on how to successfully implement a tobacco-free policy, participate in interactive sessions, and hear and see how other universities are implementing tobacco-free policies.

The provost for the University of Georgia and the baseball coach are among the invited speakers, along with national tobacco control experts.  Registration for the Summit is free. To learn more or to register, visit: http://dph.georgia.gov/2014-tobacco-free-colleges-universities-summit.

Tobacco use leads to more than 10,000 deaths a year in Georgia, and costs the state more than $1.5 billion dollars a year in avoidable health care costs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends tobacco-free environments together with support for tobacco users who want to quit as one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use.