Reducing Tobacco-Related Cancer Prevalence through College and University Policy Change

Project Overview:

The Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine (BEC) through programming, materials and technical assistance plans to increase the number of colleges and universities in Maine that adopt best practice tobacco-free campus policies. Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and accounts for nearly a third of all cancer-related deaths. Nearly all tobacco users begin using tobacco products before the age of 26, making prevention through policy and environmental change necessary to reduce youth and young adult tobacco initiation and to tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.

The Coalition will increase outreach to colleges and universities through the creation and distribution of a policy implementation and communications guide, development of policy change case studies, direct communication with colleges and universities and providing technical assistance for policy change.

With more than ten years of experience supporting policy change, BEC will create materials to positively encourage best practice policy implementation at Maine colleges and universities, with a focus on outreach to those that have higher student tobacco use, such as community colleges. 

The adoption of a tobacco-free campus policy is an evidence-based strategy to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce the prevalence of tobacco use, increase the number of tobacco users who quit, reduce initiation of tobacco use by young people, resulting in reduced tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.

The Challenge:

Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States and accounts for more than 30% of all cancer deaths. In addition to the dangers of tobacco use to the individual, the Surgeon General has repeatedly stated that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke - of the more than 7,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, at least 69 are known human carcinogens. The Guide to Community Preventive Services lists smoke and tobacco-free policies as evidence based strategies reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce young adult tobacco initiation and increase tobacco use quit attempts.

Project Benefits:

Short Term Goals:
• All colleges and universities in Maine will get at least three tobacco-free support and educational touches from the Maine Tobacco-Free College Network by 2016.
• Increase the number of tobacco-free college and university campuses in Maine from twelve (12) to fifteen (15) by 2016.
• Increase the number of colleges and universities in Maine that participate in the Gold Star Standards of Excellence program, meeting at least six of ten best practice standards for addressing tobacco on campus, by three (3) institutions (baseline: 7 schools).

Long Term Goals:
• Increase to 18 the number of 100% tobacco-free college and university campuses in Maine by 2018.
• Collect and analyze admission rate data from colleges and universities pre- and post- adoption of 100% tobacco-free policies. This will give us local data and is anticipated it will be able to be used as a tool to promote tobacco-free campuses.

Desired Long Term Outcomes:
• Decreased the number of Maine young adults (18-24 year olds) who initiative tobacco use.
• Reduced number of Maine adults who use tobacco products.
• Reduced Maine tobacco-attributed cancer deaths.

Organization: 
Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine
Grant Amount Given: 
$39,140
Year Issued: 
2015
Period: 
Spring
Grant Category: 
Prevention
Types of Cancer: 
Lung

Maine Cancer Foundation Grants to this Organization:

Year Program Amount Category Organization
2015 Addressing Disparities in Tobacco Use and Exposure through Policy and Environmental Change $74,101 Prevention Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine
2015 Reducing Tobacco-Related Cancer Prevalence through College and University Policy Change $39,140 Prevention Breathe Easy Coalition of Maine