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Southern Miss goes 100% tobacco free

photo courtesy USM

The University of Southern Mississippi has received a grant from the American Cancer Society and CVS Health Foundation to advocate for, adopt, and implement a 100-percent smoke- and tobacco-free University policy.

The new policy will replace the former-smoke-free policy and will become effective on January 1, 2018.

The University said that a Tobacco-Free Campus Task force has been created through the Moffitt Health Center with members from the Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.

The Office of Health Promotion said they are excited to use the grant as an opportunity to cohesively work with the USM community to implement the new Tobacco-Free USM policy and that efforts will be made to encourage tobacco cessation on campus as well.

Current members of this task force include University representatives from the Office of Health Promotion, Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Student Government Association, Student Affairs, Recreational Sports, Athletics, Physical Plant, Department of Public Health, and the University Police Department.

The mission of the task force is to assist in policy transition and implementation at The University of Southern Mississippi. Their overarching goal is to create a culture of wellness through campus initiatives and programming on campus in which students, faculty, staff, and community members can enjoy an environment free of smoking, vaping, and other tobacco use.

The task force’s initial efforts include creating awareness through educational programming and the use of a media campaign, the installment of signs around campus, and the promotion of cessation resources available to those desiring to quit using tobacco. Funding from the grant will also be used to train members of the campus community to actively assist in tobacco cessation efforts.

The grant that will help make the campus 100% tobacco free is part of the American Cancer Society’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI), funded by the CVS Health Foundation, to deliver the first tobacco-free generation by accelerating and expanding the number of campuses across the country that prohibit smoking and tobacco use.

USM said that the American Cancer Society will provide technical assistance and other resources, including education, communications, support to quit smoking, and evaluation.

The University of Southern Mississippi says they will also promote a culture of a healthy lifestyle by providing resources for tobacco cessation and support. By becoming tobacco-free, The University of Southern Mississippi and its constituents will further the mission of wellness and send a clear message of USM’s commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation in providing the financial support needed to assist Southern Miss students, faculty and staff better understand the health benefits of not using or stopping the use of tobacco products,” said Dr. Tom Burke, Vice President for Student Affairs at USM. Our goal is to support our community in its effort to adopt a healthy lifestyle.”

The Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative is designed to reduce the number of people who get sick and die from tobacco-related diseases by reducing tobacco use among college students.

College is a time when youth are susceptible to starting or developing a tobacco addiction. The initiative’s goal is to reduce access to and opportunities to use tobacco by increasing the number of universities and colleges that are 100 percent smoke and tobacco-free.

The U.S. Department of Education reports there are approximately 4,700 U.S. colleges and universities, many of which have more than one campus. However, only 1,611 campuses are 100-percent smoke and tobacco-free, according to an Americans for Nonsmokers Rights analysis.

“Tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Cigarette smoking is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all cancer deaths, killing up to half of its users,” said Gary Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society,” By partnering with the CVS Health Foundation to create tobacco-free campus environments, we can reduce youth tobacco exposure, prevent students from becoming addicted, and ultimately, reduce the number of people who get sick and die from cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.”

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