President Barack Obama has already promised not to smoke cigarettes in the White House. If his administration has its way, American college students will soon be required to follow suit while they’re on campus.
Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will announce a national initiative Wednesday at the University of Michigan School of Public Health to stamp out tobacco use on college campuses.
“We are witnessing a public health evolution to make smoking history and protect people from tobacco dependence so that they have a fighting chance to enjoy their full potential for health,” Koh said in a statement released by the University of Michigan, a smoke-free campus since last July.
“Implementing this initiative will bring us closer to a world where tobacco-related illness is uncommon and lung cancer — the leading cause of cancer death in the country — is rare.”
Koh will announce the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, reportedly part of Health and Human Services’ national Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan, which will push other institutions of higher learning to adopt tobacco-free policies.
“Twenty million students, about a third of all young adults in this country, are enrolled in higher education,” added University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network executive director and Koh advisor Clifford Douglas. “Through their campus policies, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to influence a student’s daily life.”
A number of colleges have already moved to become smoke-free voluntarily. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights claim that 774 American college campuses had eliminated smoking by July 1, including 562 that banned tobacco completely, according to USA Today.