Cassie Chadwell

Mentor: Margaret Tomann, MSPH

Current Status: Undergraduate

Institution: UVa-Wise

Best Practices for Tobacco Cessation on College Campuses 

It is estimated that 6 million people die each year from tobacco related illnesses. The numbers are expected to rise and if they sustain approximately 1 billion lives will be taken by tobacco in the 21st century (Cohen, 2012).  According to the CDC, hundreds of the 7,000 chemicals found in a cigarette are poisonous and 70 are proven carcinogens. Each day 1,000 adolescents become addicted to smoking and tobacco companies marketing campaigns target young adults. Current research suggests that design changes including filters and “low tar” cigarettes are not impacting disease rates but have hindered prevention efforts. A few issues related to tobacco use  include but are not limited to cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), strokes, and heart disease.
        While rates of tobacco use are slowly declining in urban areas use is increasing in rural areas of the United States. Crosby, Wendel, Vanderpool, and Casey (2012) found a spatial association between rurality and cigarette smoking. The data showed a positive correlation between different levels of rurality and smoking rates. In a survey 10% of participants located in rural areas had used smokeless tobacco in the past year when compared to both smaller and lager metropolitan areas where only 5.4-3.1% of participants had done the same (Weg et al.,2010).
       In the United States 17.3% of adults between 18-24 years old smoke (Adult Cigarette, 2014). College students make up one third of this same age range (U.S. Bureau of the Censes, 1997). The correlation between tobacco use on college campuses is wide spread and threatens public health. Over 19.1% of college students who smoke on a daily basis began smoking after age 19 and 70-80% have already attempted to quit (CDC, 1997; Everett et al., 1999; Wetter, 2004). This high percentage makes the age range a great target population for cessation efforts. This age is also correlated with the formation of habits and routines that individuals continue for a lifetime.
Regional work is already being done to put a stop to the harmful affects of tobacco. School districts throughout the region have or are in the process of adding and enforcing tobacco-free policies with help/support from the America Lung Association. While health officials are working to make education and cessation programs accessible and readily available.
      The tobacco policies for college campuses in the region vary but most are minimal. Mountain Empire Community College’s library is entirely tobacco free (Appendix A). There is no tobacco policy for other buildings on their campus. Southwest Virginia Community College has a Tobacco-Free work place policy, banning all tobacco use inside property the college owns or leases (Appendix A). The Appalachian School of Pharmacy is entirely tobacco free (Appendix B).  East Tennessee State University, a neighboring college established a Tobacco-Free policy in August of 2008 (Appendix C). At the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, residence halls are tobacco free with a policy change under review that could make all campus buildings tobacco free (Appendix D).