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Steps Toward a Smoke Free Campus

West Shore Community College has announced the WSCC Student Senate will join a national movement to address smoking and tobacco use at college campuses throughout the U.S. The Student Senate will ask students, faculty and administration to support the adoption of a 100 percent smoke- or tobacco-free policy.

        “We are truly excited by the student led effort to make West Shore a safe, healthy and productive environment,” said President Scott Ward. “The health benefits of reducing secondhand smoke exposure are invaluable and could also help students prepare for the workforce where smoke-free policies are already the norm.”

           Over the next 17 months, the Student Senate will engage the campus community to address tobacco use. A taskforce will be formed to oversee the project, assess tobacco use behavior and attitudes, identify a treatment plan for current smokers and develop a policy. Two students will develop and lead educational efforts to build a movement to become a tobacco-free campus. Any policy change must be approved by college’s board of trustees.

           The Student Senate efforts are part of a growing trend to clean the air on campuses. Currently, more than 2,100 higher education institutions in the United States have gone smoke- or tobacco-free.

           West Shore was one of 18 minority-serving institutions and community colleges that will receive funds and technical support from Truth Initiative®, the nation’s largest nonprofit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past. Over the past three years, Truth Initiative has partnered with 135 colleges, reaching more than 1.2 million students and 275,000 faculty and staff across 35 states.

        “With 99 percent of smokers starting before age 26, college campuses are critical platforms for preventing young adults from starting tobacco use, aiding those current tobacco users in quitting and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke for all,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “We are looking forward to supporting West Shore Community College’s efforts to make smoking and tobacco use a thing of the past.”

           Today, 38 million Americans ages 18 and above still smoke — including 21% in Michigan — 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.

           Minority-serving institutions and community colleges tend to serve students who are at greater risk for tobacco use, including low-income, racial and ethnic minority and first-generation students.

           “The grant from Truth Initiative has set us up for success and I’m positive we can achieve our goals,” said Lisa Stankowski, who will oversee the administration of the grant and campus wide initiative. “We are going to hit the ground running with our plan so that we can finally take a breath of fresh air on campus.”

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