According to a new report from CVS Health Foundation, three in four Americans 73 percent and eight in 10 current U.S. college students 78 percent – indicated their support for policies that prohibit smoking and other tobacco use on college.
To help U.S. colleges and universities advocate for, adopt and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies, the CVS Health Foundation, American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative recently announced that grants are now available.
Delivered through the Truth Initiative and American Cancer Society as part of Be The First, CVS Health's five-year, $50 million initiative that supports education, tobacco control, and healthy behavior programming with a goal of helping to deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.
“We are at a critical moment in our nation’s efforts to end the epidemic of smoking and tobacco use, and expanding the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses is an important step in our efforts,” said Eileen Howard Boone, president of the CVS Health Foundation.
“We’re confident our strategy will drive a significant decline in the number of new college-age smokers, and contribute to the progress being made where a tobacco-free generation in the U.S. seems possible,” said Boone.
Since the launch of its tobacco-free college program in 2016, the CVS Health Foundation has awarded more than $3 million in grants to 146 U.S. colleges and universities as part of an ongoing commitment to accelerate and expand the number of 100 percent tobacco-free campuses.
The grants are part of aggressive efforts by all three organizations to deliver the first tobacco-free generation by accelerating and expanding the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking and tobacco use.
To date, $1.2 million has already been awarded to 126 colleges and universities,across the country, pursuing smoke- and tobacco-free policies.
Of the roughly 20 million college and university students in the U.S., more than 1 million are projected to die prematurely from cigarette smoking. And with 99 percent of smokers starting before age 26, college campuses play a critical role in preventing young adults from starting tobacco use.
Yet today, only about one-third of all U.S. colleges and universities are currently tobacco or smoke-free, despite the fact that the public support for tobacco- and smoke-free campuses remains strong:
"While we have made great progress driving down the smoking rate to 6 percent among youth, the prevalence of smoking by young adults is 14.2 percent and those who attend college have a higher risk of initiating and experimental smoking," said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, the national public health organization that directs and funds the campaign.
“With 99 percent of smokers starting before age 26, college campuses are critical in preventing young adults from starting tobacco use, aiding current smokers in quitting and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke for all,” said Koval.
“We are thrilled to be working with the CVS Health Foundation to provide grants to minority-serving institutions, HBCUs, and community colleges to give them the tools to go tobacco-free and be the generation that ends smoking,” she said.
Dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco, Truth Initiative speaks, seeks and spreads the truth about tobacco through education, tobacco control research and policy studies, and community activism and engagement.
The initiative credits its efforts for decreasing teen cigarette use, which is down from 23 percent in 2000 to seven percent in 2015.
"Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths, killing up to half of its users," said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society,
"By partnering with the CVS Health Foundation to create tobacco-free campus environments, we can reduce youth tobacco exposure, prevent students from becoming addicted, and ultimately, reduce the number of people who get sick and die from cancer and other tobacco-related diseases," he said.