In a major step to foster a healthy learning environment, American Baptist College joins a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities that have adopted a tobacco-free campus policy. The college's annual survey of Campus Climate administered earlier in the academic year was used to gather input from the campus about tobacco use on campus. The majority of those responding supported a tobacco-free campus environment and wanted to know more about healthy living and lifestyles. The college was happy to have two representatives at the 2016 Truth Initiative conference held this year in Tallahassee, Florida, Mrs. Jackie Harris, Director of the ABC Health and Wellness Center and ABC student JuQuan Stewart ('17). The Truth Initiative is the nation's largest non-profit health organization dedicated to making tobacco-use a thing of the past.
In an effort to build a happy and healthy environment for all at ABC, an information campaign will take place over the next five months to help students and employees break their addiction to tobacco products. The campaign will offer health-related information and multiple smoking cessation programs.
“We are truly excited to start the process of making American Baptist College a safe, healthy and productive environment,” said Dr. Forrest Harris, President, American Baptist College; “The health benefits of reducing secondhand smoke exposure are invaluable, but also a tobacco-free policy may be able to help tobacco users quit and keep students from starting a life-long addiction to tobacco.”
The tobacco-free initiative is being funded in part by Truth Initiative, the national public health organization responsible for the award-winning and proven effective truth® smoking prevention campaign.
“We are very excited to partner with HBCUs to target young adults at risk of initiating tobacco use, including alternative tobacco products such as little cigars, cigarillos and menthol products that are more widely used in the African American community,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Legacy.
“Tobacco use has a devastating impact on the African American community, especially because it has been targeted by tobacco industry marketing.”
Through the grant from Truth Initiative, American Baptist College formed a special task force, which is now assessing campus tobacco use and plans to engage students
in a public education campaign as part of a comprehensive strategy to address the high use of tobacco among African Americans.
Truth Initiative, whose public education, research and community activism programs include the effective truth® youth smoking prevention campaign,
will provide technical assistance and funding to American Baptist College. Campus campaigns will align with the award winning campaign,
which focuses on revealing the truth about the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing tactics toward youth and minority communities.
The campus wide campaign aims to reduce tobacco use while increasing support for a potential tobacco-free policy.
“Eliminating tobacco use among young African Americans is a social justice issue that directly impacts our community and we are uniquely positioned to address it,” said Jhay Smith,
President of the ABC Student Government Association. “We are committed to joining the list of other HBCUs who have already banned tobacco
and are hopeful we can see the end of tobacco use on campus in the near future.”
The task force consists of: Mr. Richard Jackson, Vice President for Finance, Administration and Legal Affairs, Mr. Martin Espinosa, Vice President for Campus Life,
Mr. Joseph Tribble, Director of Griggs Hall, Professor Asha Hunter and Ms. Jhay Smith, President, ABC Student Government Association
For additional information about Truth Initiative’s Tobacco-Free HBCU Initiative, visit http://truthinitiative.org/news/truth-initiative-committed-smoke-free-campus-priority-populations