A pair of leading health organizations have partnered on an ambitious goal: to make U.S. college campuses smoke-free in order to bring about the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.
Millions being invested
The Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI) is a $3.6 million multi-year program intended to accelerate and expand the adoption and implementation of 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies. Launched by CVS Health Foundation Award Grants and the American Cancer Society (ACS), TFGCI is part of Be the First, a five-year, $50 million dollar program by CVS Health that supports education, advocacy, tobacco control, and healthy behavior programming.
The University of Pennsylvania is one of the first 20 grant recipients, and is working towards becoming the first Ivy League institution to adopt a 100 percent tobacco-free campus policy.
Penn President Amy Gutmann said Penn pulmonologist Frank Leone has led the university in the development of an interdisciplinary approach to smoking cessation that has yielded unprecedented success in just two years.
Where it starts
ACS CEO Gary M. Reedy said creating a tobacco-free generation must start with eliminating tobacco use among college students.
Over the next three years, the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative will award grants to a total of 125 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. with the greatest need for stronger tobacco prevention and control. The grants will help schools successfully advocate for, adopt and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies. Campuses will also receive technical assistance and resources to support their efforts with education, communications, cessation, and evaluation.
Other grant recipients include: Bowling Green State University (Ohio), California State University San Marcos, Davenport University (Mich.), East Carolina University (N.C.), El Paso Community College (Texas), Indiana University – Bloomington, Lenoir-Rhyne University (N.C.), Merritt College (Calif.), Montclair State University (N.J.), Oakland University (Mich.), Penn State University (Pa.), Piedmont Community College (N.C.), Saint Mary's College of California, Springfield College (Mass.), St. Xavier University (Ill.), Texas Christian University, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College (Ohio) and University of Michigan.
Public support for tobacco control on campus
TFGCI grants are intended to address a critical, unmet need by supporting efforts to advocate for, establish and institute smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies. The U.S. Department of Education reports there are approximately 4,700 institutions of higher education in the United States. According to the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, only 1,427 campuses are 100-percent smoke- and tobacco-free. That reflects major progress over earlier years, but much remains to be done.
According to a new national Morning Consult poll of 2,202 registered voters commissioned by CVS Health on October 12-18 2016, there is strong public support for addressing the continued impact of tobacco use on college and university campuses. Among the key poll findings:
Seventy-six-percent of Americans think youth smoking and/or tobacco use is a problem. Similarly, 69% of Americans think college student smoking and/or tobacco use is a problem.
More than half of Americans (56%) think the number of tobacco-free campuses is too low. This is similar among U.S. college students where the combined percentage is 54 percent.
Three-quarters (75%) of Americans support policies that prohibit smoking and other tobacco use on college campuses.
Fifty-two percent of Americans think whether or not a campus is tobacco-free is an important consideration when applying to, and potentially attending, a college/university, ranking behind academic quality (86%) and quality of housing (79%), but ahead of how competitive athletic teams are (38%).
A "critical moment"
"We're 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 Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., M.P.H., and Chief Medical Officer for CVS Health. "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."
Accepting applications for new grants
In partnership with the CVS Health Foundation, the American Cancer Society will begin accepting online applications for the next round of Tobacco-Free Generation Initiative (TFGCI) grants. The fall grant cycle will run through February 28, 2017 with the names of grant recipients to be announced in May 2017.
In addition to grants, colleges and universities will receive technical assistance throughout the tobacco-free policy planning and implementation process. Technical assistance will be provided through webinars, online resources and limited one-on-one consultations.
To learn more about the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI), U.S. colleges and universities are encouraged to visit www.CVSHealth.com/tobaccofreecampus. To apply for a TFGCI grant, visit www.cancer.org/tfgci.