NBC Right Now
PASCO, WA – Today Columbia Basin College (CBC) was one of 48 colleges and universities to be awarded a grant from Truth Initiative® to adopt a 100 percent tobacco or smoke-free campus policy. The effort is part of a national movement among students, faculty and administrators to address smoking and tobacco use at college campuses throughout the U.S.
“We are truly excited to make CBC a safe, healthy and productive environment,” said Dr. Rebekah Woods, CBC’s President. “The health benefits of reducing secondhand smoke exposure are extensive. Plus this will also help our students prepare for the workforce where smoke-free policies are already the norm.”
Ninety-nine percent of all smokers start smoking before the age of 26, making college campuses a critical part in the fight against youth tobacco use. Since 2015, the Truth Initiative Tobacco-Free College Program, in partnership with CVS Health, has awarded more than $1.8 million in funding to 154 colleges and universities to prevent young adults from starting tobacco use, help tobacco smokers quit and reduce everyone’s exposure to secondhand smoke.
“Our goal is to make campus environments healthier places to live, work and learn,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “We are proud to continue to build relationships and provide grants to minority-serving institutions, HBCUs, women’s colleges and community colleges to give them the tools to go tobacco free and be the generation that ends smoking.”
CBC’s efforts are part of a growing trend to clean the air on campuses. Currently, more than 2,342 higher education institutions in the United States have gone smoke- or tobacco-free.
Besides helping to reduce smoking rates, smoke- and tobacco-free policies also change attitudes toward tobacco products and address emerging products such as e-cigarettes. E-cigarette use has surged over the last year, especially among young people.Nearly seven percent of college student’s ages 19 to 28 reported having used an e-cigarette that contains nicotine in the past 30 days and one study showed that66 percent of college students are in favor of policies prohibiting e-cigarette use on campus. The spread of e-cigarettes risks a reversal of the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades given that young people who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future. Instead of fueling adults to quit, e-cigarettes may be turning back the clock on progress in the fight against tobacco and addicting a new generation to nicotine.
These latest data show, 38 million Americans ages 18 and above still smoke and tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in this country. Research also shows that there are dire health consequences for nonsmokers too. Secondhand smoke exposure causes cancer and cardiovascular disease among other secondhand smoke diseases, which are responsible for more than 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults in the U.S.
Of the roughly 20 million college and university students in the U.S., more than 1 million have been projected to die prematurely from cigarette smoking and its effects. Over the next 16 months, CBC will form a campus task force that will assess tobacco use behaviors and attitudes, identify a treatment plan for current smokers and develop a smoke- or tobacco-free policy. Two student leaders will also develop and lead educational efforts to build a movement to become a tobacco-free campus. After participation in the program, the institutions are poised to join a growing movement that will protect more than 1.3 million students and 285,000 employees in over 39 states.
“The grant from Truth Initiative has set us up for success and I’m positive we can achieve our goals,” said Dr. Woods.
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