UNLV Nursing Team LeadsEffort to Rid Tobacco from Southern Nevada Higher Ed Campuses by 2012
College is a time when young adults experiment with their newfound independence, try new things, and develop life-long behaviors. UNLV’s School of Nursing is leading a new effort to ensure those life-long behaviors do not include tobacco use.
Led by assistant professor Susan VanBeuge, Tobacco Free UNLV has a goal to rid tobacco from Southern Nevada college campuses by 2012 through a combination of campus outreach, smoking cessation classes and tobacco-free policy development. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a partnership with the Southern Nevada Health District.
“We all know the detrimental effects of a life of smoking and the hazards of secondhand smoke, but quitting isn’t easy,” says VanBeuge. “As health professionals, if we can help employees and students eliminate this habit from their lives, or, even better, ensure they never start, we’re doing the right thing.”
Support for Banning Butts
Health agencies estimate that between 24 and 30 percent of the nation’s college students smoke – a rate roughly 10 percent higher than the general U.S. population. A 2010 UNLV survey revealed a smaller number –just 16 percent - of its students smoke, and more than half said they’d like to quit smoking before they graduate.
Close to three-quarters of the students in the same UNLV survey also backed the creation of a campus-wide tobacco free policy, one of Tobacco Free UNLV’s primary goals.
“Before advocating for new policies, we need to make sure the campuses are truly interested in becoming smoke-free,” says VanBeuge. “Strong survey results and encouraging turnout in cessation programs are good signs that we’re headed in the right direction.”
Strengthening Smoke-Free Policy
Through targeted campus outreach, VanBeuge and her team are also working to prevent the sale, distribution or advertisement of tobacco products on the premises of area colleges.
The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act already prohibits indoor smoking at all higher education campuses in the state, but Tobacco Free UNLV aims to take it a step further by drafting policies to potentially ban all tobacco, tobacco related products, advertisement and tobacco sponsored events on campus. More than 250 college campuses in the U.S. have comprehensive tobacco-free policies. Additionally, more than 400 college campuses are smoke-free in the United States.
Tobacco Free UNLV is part of a $14.6 million grant awarded by the CDC to the Southern Nevada Health District to support its Tobacco Control Program. The Tobacco Control Program includes media campaigns, policy research, and smoking cessation services to reduce youth and adult smoking rates in Southern Nevada.