Tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year:
- An estimated 480,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Another 16 million suffer from at least one chronic disease caused by smoking.
Prevention is critical. Ninety-nine percent of all smokers start before age 26, so if individuals don’t start using tobacco by then, they almost certainly will never start.
We know that smoke-free policies are a proven strategy to reduce tobacco use, and a key component of creating change is to lead by example. In September of 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), together with several key partners, launched the Tobacco Free College Campus Initiative (TFCCI) to encourage the voluntary adoption of tobacco-free policies at institutions of higher learning across the nation.
As of October 2014, at least 1,514 U.S. universities are smoke-free, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Of these, 1,014 are 100% tobacco-free, and 587 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes on campus.