Concord University Pursues Smoke- And Tobacco-Free Campus

ATHENS, WV (WOAY) – As part of its commitment to building healthier communities, CVS Health recently announced it has provided a total of $40,000 in grants through the CVS Health Foundation to five colleges and universities in West Virginia to advocate for, adopt, and implement 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies, including limiting the use of e-cigarettes.

Concord University is one of the five selected for the grant, and is one of 82 schools across the country to be part of a more than $1.4 million grant pool being delivered in partnership with the American Cancer Society and Truth Initiative. The grants build upon the three organizations’ combined commitment to helping deliver a tobacco-free generation.

The funding will help accelerate and expand the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking, e-cigarette, and other tobacco product use. While conventional cigarette smoking among high school students has fallen by almost 50 percent since 2011, e-cigarette use has surged over the last year, especially among young people – there are 2.8 million young adults aged 18-24 who are current e-cigarette users. The spread of e-cigarettes risks a reversal of the progress made in reducing smoking over the last two decades given that young people who vape are four times more likely to begin smoking cigarettes in the future.

“Cigarettes cause more than 480,000 U.S. deaths annually and are responsible for nearly 29 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society. “College is a time when young adults are susceptible to developing or perpetuating an addiction to nicotine and tobacco. This partnership continues to enable us to help reduce tobacco use among college students and therefore reduce the number of people impacted by tobacco-related diseases.”

Chris Smallwood, Director of Recreation & Wellness at Concord University, has accepted the role of Lead Investigator and Assessment Sub-Committee Chair of Concord University’s Tobacco Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI) called “Let’s CU Quit.” Since receiving the award, Chris has created a campus-wide TFGCI Task Force and has hired a Student Peer Group Leader who is assisting him in all efforts to develop and execute customized strategies to meet the unique needs of Concord University as the campus moves toward a 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free environment.

Over the course of the grant period, the Task Force is developing a 100 percent smoke- and tobacco-free policy for presentation to the President’s Cabinet and the Board of Governors, and implementing programs to increase awareness of and support for a tobacco-free campus by creating and disseminating education materials including a web-site dedicated to cessation resources.

Quitting incentive programs including workshops, support groups, and events such as The Great American Smoke Out, 1-Day Stands, and Through with Chew Week will be combined with events and programs promoting recreation, exercise, and healthier eating throughout the campus community. The Task Force believes that a key to the success of the initiative is to incorporate the element of fun into every event and program and partner with existing events and traditions at the University.

With this in mind, the TFGCI offered its first event of the year – CU Kick Butts Day – as part of Concord’s Earth Day Celebration on April 22. Students, staff and faculty were invited to participate. Teams of four competed to pick up the most cigarette butts around campus.

All who participated received a certificate for a free Subway 6-inch sub meal and members of the winning team each received a $25 prepaid Visa Card. The winners are Alex Lim, Stephanie Hopkins, Yohna Telemaegue, and Conner Allen.

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