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Shepherd receives $15k grant to address issue of smoking on campus

ISSUED: 19 September 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University has received a $15,000 grant from the American Cancer Society and CVS Health Foundation to advocate for, adopt, and possibly implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies.

The grant is part of the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI), funded by the CVS Health Foundation, with a goal of delivering the first tobacco-free generation by accelerating and expanding the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking and tobacco use. The American Cancer Society will provide technical assistance and other resources, including education, communications, support to quit smoking, and evaluation.

Shepherd will use the grant to support exploration and education around the use of tobacco on campus.

“The goal is to engage the campus to determine what it would like to do about tobacco use, and if the campus says it wants to eliminate tobacco use, that then becomes a policy recommendation to the administration,” said Dr. Tom Segar, vice president for student affairs. “The grant also allows us to provide some education to the campus community around the effects of tobacco use. We also intend to provide individuals, if they’re interested, with help reducing or eliminating the use of tobacco products.”

Segar said the grant money will be used to survey the campus community to assess tobacco use, habits, and attitudes; educate about the dangers of tobacco use; provide help for those who want to stop using tobacco products; and pay for signage. Segar said a committee that includes representatives from several departments, including the Health Center, Student Affairs, and nursing, will provide guidance.

The Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative is designed to reduce the number of people who get sick and die from tobacco-related diseases by reducing tobacco use among college students. According to the American Cancer Society, college is a time when young people are susceptible to starting or developing a tobacco addiction. The initiative’s goal is to reduce access to and opportunities to use tobacco by increasing the number of universities and colleges that are 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free.

“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.”

TFGCI is part of CVS Health’s Be The First campaign, the company’s five-year, $50 million commitment to helping deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation. As part of Be The First, CVS Health and the CVS Health Foundation has set actionable and measurable goals, including a doubling of the number of tobacco-free educational institutions in the United States.

“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.”

According to a new survey from CVS Health, public support for smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies remains strong. The results reveal that three in four Americans and eight in 10 current U.S. college students indicated their support for tobacco-free policies on college campuses. At the same time, fifty-seven percent of U.S. college students say a tobacco-free campus is important to them when considering applying to or attending a college. The U.S. Department of Education reports there are approximately 4,700 U.S. colleges and universities, many of which have more than one campus. Yet, only 1,611 campuses are 100-percent smoke- and tobacco-free, according to an Americans for Nonsmokers Rights analysis.

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