Fort Scott Community College announced its plan to join a national movement to address smoking and tobacco use on college campuses throughout the U.S.
Fort Scott Community College will ask students, faculty, and administration to support the adoption of a 100 percent smoke-free policy.
“We are truly excited to make Fort Scott Community College a safe, healthy and productive environment,” said Alysia Johnston, Fort Scott Community College President. “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, Fort Scott Community College will engage the campus community to address tobacco use. A task force 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. The policy must be approved by Fort Scott Community College Board of Trustees.
Fort Scott Community College’s 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.
FSCC 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. The project will be led by Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society on campus. 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 Fort Scott 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 17.7 percent in Kansas— and tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in this country. Research also shows that there are dire health consequences for non-smokers 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 Johnston. “We are going to hit the ground running with our plan so that we can finally take a breath of fresh air on campus.”