Salem College was one of 14 colleges and universities to be awarded a grant from Truth Initiative® to adopt a 100% tobacco/vape-free campus policy. The effort is part of a national movement among students, faculty and administrators to address smoking, vaping, and nicotine use at college campuses throughout the U.S.
As the nation gets back to school amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about the youth vaping crisis continue to mount as the evidence based on the connection between the two grows. Newly published data show young people who reported ever using e-cigarettes may be up to five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to their non-vaping peers. In addition, new CDC reports show an encouraging decline in youth vaping, but a troubling rise in menthol and flavored disposable e-cigarette use.
Over the next 19 months, Salem College will form a campus task force that will assess smoking, vaping and tobacco use behaviors and attitudes; identify a treatment plan for current smokers and vapers; and develop a smoke, vape, and tobacco-free policy. Two student leaders will also develop and lead educational efforts to build a movement to become a smoke, vape and tobacco-free campus. After participation in the program, the institutions are poised to join a growing movement that will protect more than 1.9 million students and 159,000 employees in 40 states.
Since 2015, the Truth Initiative Tobacco/Vape-Free College Program has awarded more than $2.4 million in funding to 200 colleges, universities and college systems. Moreover, with the tobacco industry’s long history of targeting vulnerable communities, the grant program seeks to serve community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and women’s colleges. This year’s 14 grantees represent a diverse group of institutions, including community colleges, HBCUs, Hispanic serving institutions, women’s colleges, tribal colleges, and Asian American and Native American Pacific-Islander serving colleges.
“The grant from Truth Initiative has set us up for success and I’m positive we can achieve our goals,” said Susan Henking, interim president of Salem Academy and College. “We are going to hit the ground running with our plan so that we can make our campus environments safer for all of our students, faculty and staff.”
“Our goal is to make campus environments healthier places to live, work and learn,” said Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative. “We are proud to continue to build relationships and provide grants to minority-serving institutions, women’s colleges and community colleges to give them the tools to go tobacco and vape-free.”
Truth Initiative is equally committed to helping young people who vape to quit. This is Quitting is a first-of-its-kind, free and anonymous text message quit-vaping program for teens and young adults that has helped more than 200,000 young people who have enrolled. This is Quitting, which first launched in January 2019, was created with input from teens, college students and young adults who have attempted to, or successfully, quit e-cigarettes. Preliminary data about the program published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research showed after just two weeks of using This is Quitting, more than half of participants—60.8%—reported that they had reduced or stopped using e-cigarettes. Teens and young adults can text “DITCHVAPE” to 88709 and get immediate help. Parents of young people who vape can get support at becomeanex.org.
Salem Academy and College is the oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. For more information about Salem Academy, please visit salemacademy.com. For more information about Salem College, please visit salem.edu.