Tobacco Free Colleges
IIn Florida, 20 colleges and universities have taken the bold step to enact 100 percent smoke-free campus policies. Across the United States, college students are leading efforts to enact smoke-free policies on their campuses. While it is not uncommon for colleges and universities to implement policies requiring that buildings be smoke-free indoors, an increasing number of campuses have gone 100 percent smoke-free indoors and out. At least 1,182 colleges and universities in the U.S. have 100 percent smoke-free campuses, providing clean air and healthy environments for students, staff and visitors1
In Florida, 18-24 year-olds have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking, compared to all other age groups. Many college students believe their current tobacco use is harmless, that they are not addicted, and that they’ll quit smoking when they graduate. But studies show otherwise. The fact is that smoking as young adults often leads to a lifetime of addiction, resulting in tobacco-related disease and premature death. The earlier smokers quit, the more they can reverse the health damage caused by smoking.
The American College Health Association recommends 100 percent indoor and outdoor campus-wide tobacco free environments to support students in their development of healthy lifestyles, and to protect students, faculty and staff from the known harms of secondhand smoke. Tobacco free college campuses send a clear message about the dangers of smoking, social smoking, tobacco use and secondhand smoke. New smokeless tobacco products also pose a serious risk because they circumvent smoke-free policies and keep smokers hooked on nicotine in places where smoking is banned, which can strengthen their nicotine addiction and make it harder for them to quit.
Beyond these health implications, there are environmental and economic benefits of colleges going smoke-free associated with a reduction in cigarette butt litter. Only one out of 10 cigarettes smoked is properly deposited in ash receptacles. In fact, one public university has estimated that cigarette litter cleanup costs were $150,000 on its campus each year. Smoke-free campus policies can save lives and save universities thousands of dollars each year. 7
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- Today, one in five college students smoke cigarettes.8
- College students are particularly prone to taking up social smoking as an opportunity to facilitate social interaction, according to an American Lung Association study9
- Most believe their casual tobacco use is harmless and that they are not addicted,10 when in reality, no level of cigarette smoking is safe and nicotine is an addictive drug.
- Most social smokers in college believe that they will quit smoking when they graduate, but studies show otherwise.11
- Secondhand smoke is a serious problem. It contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.12
- There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be dangerous.13
- Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer.14
- Each year, primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke, more than 46,000 nonsmoking Americans die of heart disease15
- Breathing secondhand smoke can have immediate adverse effects on your blood and blood vessels, increasing the risk of having a heart attack.16
- Smoke-free campus policies work. During its first year smoke-free, the University of Kentucky had 146 people enrolled in a tobacco cessation program, an increase from 33 people the previous year. The number of nicotine replacement coupons redeemed by students and faculty also increased from 124 to 470 in the same period, according to Ellen Hahn, director of UK’s Tobacco Policy Research Program.17
- Penn State University estimated that cigarette litter cleanup costs were $150,000 on its campus each year.18
- Only 10 percent of cigarette butts are properly deposited in ash receptacles.19
- The Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD, instituted the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program at five building locations in 2010 and saw a 47 percent decrease in cigarette butt litter.20