The ECU campus will be tobacco free starting next fall if the state law adopts the new Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative. Besides the East Carolina University, 19 other educational institutes across the United States participate in this program funded by the CVS Health Foundation and American Cancer Society, which have invested approximately $3.6 million in developing and implementing tobacco-free campus regulations.
The current smoke-free zone of 25 feet will be expanded to within one hundred feet of all ECU buildings. For the moment, not all campuses are allowed by law to go entirely tobacco-free, except the ECU medical facilities and the UNC.
According to Joseph Lee, the main investigator of the Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative Grant and a health education assistant professor, this grant is the first step in reducing the smoking consequences on ECU students and North Carolina residents. He added that everyone is responsible for improving their lifestyle by making healthier choices.
“For some of us, that might mean quitting smoking. For others, it might mean eating better. But we also, as a university and as communities, have a responsibility to build a healthier environment for all of us,” Lee said.
Although e-cigarette use is not among the targets of the new tobacco-free campus regulations, many efforts are being made by officials in order to issue new policies that will restrict vaping around the ECU campus.
Lee added that 59 other universities throughout North Carolina had adopted tobacco-free regulations, including several private schools, community colleges, as well as four UNC schools. In addition to this, all K-12 public schools and hospitals across the state are tobacco-free.
According to the experts, smoking can cause life-threatening health issues, especially lung cancer. Lungs face the greatest exposure to the tobacco smoke which contains at least 60 carcinogens.
It is worth mentioning that the mortality rates of lung cancer are higher than pancreas, breast, prostate, and colon cancers combined. Based on the statistics, lung cancer killed 5,600 patients in North Carolina three years ago.
Lee stressed that the new regulations would reduce the exposure of non-smoking students to tobacco smoke, which is particularly harmful to those who have asthma and other respiratory health conditions.
During the latest ECU smoking survey, eight percent out of 1,700 students confessed that they were regular smokers. Therefore, a new tobacco-free campus policy is needed to raise awareness regarding the risks of smoking among teenagers and young adults.
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