UNLV nursing professor Nancy York received $500,000 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and carry out a plan to stamp out tobacco use at Southern Nevada's higher education campuses by 2012.
As part of the CDC's Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, York and a team from UNLV's Student Health Center will survey college students and staff, draft campus policies and introduce tobacco cessation outreach and programming at UNLV, Nevada State College and the College of Southern Nevada.
"When young adults get to college, they tend to experiment with their new independence and can develop negative life-long behaviors such as smoking," said York. "But we can't just say 'smoking is unhealthy' and expect them to quit; we need to build campus support and work together with students and staff to develop a plan that works and can be sustained."
The Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act already prohibits indoor smoking at all higher education campuses in the state. York and her team will draft policies and work with higher education leaders to prohibit outdoor smoking a minimum distance from campus buildings, outdoor arenas and near seating and gathering areas. Through a targeted outreach campaign, the team will also work to prevent the sale, distribution or advertisement of tobacco products on area college campuses.
Health agencies estimate that between 24 and 30 percent of the nation's college students smoke - a rate roughly ten percent higher than the general U.S. population. A recent UNLV survey revealed that 15 percent of its students smoke, with more than half stating they'd like to quit smoking before they graduate.
The UNLV-led project 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 will include media campaigns, policy research and smoking cessation services to reduce youth and adult smoking rates in Southern Nevada.