West Shore Community College is taking steps to join a national movement to address smoking and tobacco use at community college campuses throughout the United States. In partnership with the WSCC Student Senate, the college has applied for a grant to implement a tobacco-free college program on the campus.
On Wed., Nov. 15, at 11 a.m., the college will host a conversation, “A Breath of Fresh Air,” about the benefits of a tobacco free campus and local quit tobacco resources in the Schoenherr Campus Center atrium.
The speakers will be Kate Donaldson of the Truth Initiative and Erin Barrett, a public health educator of the District Health Department #10.
“The harmful effects of smoking are more apparent today than ever before. The Surgeon General reports links with smoking and secondhand smoke to other debilitating conditions such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. While much progress has been made across the country in higher education, it is still clear that we can do more to educate our students and community,” said Interim President Scott Ward. “Cigarette smoking and second hand smoke have cost the United States over $200 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. We need to prepare our students for the workforce where smoke-free policies are already the norm.”
WSCC’s efforts are part of a growing trend to clean the air on campuses. Nearly 1,500 higher education institutions in the United States have gone smoke- or tobacco-free, including about 350 community colleges.
Currently, the college does not allow smoking within 50 feet of a building entrance.
If awarded, the grant will provide technical support from the Truth Initiative, the nation’s largest non-profit public health organization dedicated to making tobacco use a thing of the past. The Truth Initiative has partnered with over 70 community colleges and hopes to reach nearly 800,000 community college students and 59,000 faculty/staff across 27 states.
Today, 40 million Americans still smoke and tobacco use remains the number-one cause of preventable death in this country. Research also shows there are dire health consequences for non-smokers, too. Secondhand smoke exposure causes cancer and cardiovascular disease among other secondhand smoke diseases, responsible for more than 41,000 deaths among non-smoking adults in the U.S.
Community colleges in the U.S. serve almost half, 45 percent, of the undergraduate student population. With an enrollment of more than 12 million, community colleges serve as an entryway to higher education for many students of color, low-income and first generation college degree earners.
“The grant from the Truth Initiative will set the Student Senate up for success and I am confident together we can help them achieve their goals,” said Ward. “We are all supporting this student driven initiative to bring better health and a breath of fresh air to the campus.”
Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Relations