What Are the Benefits of Becoming Smoke-Free?
Decreasing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
- Exposure to secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 50,000 nonsmokers each year.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found secondhand tobacco smoke to be a risk to public health, and has classified secondhand smoke as a group A carcinogen, the most dangerous class of carcinogen
- The California Air Resources Board has categorized secondhand smoke as a toxic air contaminant, in the same category as diesel exhaust
- Most recently, the Surgeon General of the United States concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and that establishing smoke-free environments is the only proven way to prevent exposure
Protecting Workers Not Protected by State Law
- More than 90 percent of Californians approve of a law to protect workers from secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Yet many individuals who work on campus are still unprotected from secondhand smoke exposure throughout the day. Examples include employees who care for buildings and grounds, facilities and campus security. Additionally, employees may be exposed to secondhand smoke via HVAC intake vents and windows that draw in smoke from smoking passers-by
Eliminating Tobacco Litter on Campus
- · An assessment of cigarette waste was conducted at California State University, Northridge on April 20, 2015. There were 83 students and staff members volunteered 86 hours to collect cigarette butts and related waste across campus, including parking lots. A total of 18,945 butts were collected. This represented approximately 228 butts per volunteer.
- A cigarette litter study was conducted by COUGH on April 14, 2013, where two CSUN students, in one hour, picked up all visible cigarette-butt litter on the ground of the common areas (pathways, plant/grass areas and sitting areas) of Jacaranda Hall, Juniper Hall, Sierra Hall, Sierra Tower and Bayramian Hall. A total of 2,927 cigarette butts and six empty cigarette packs were collected.
- Cigarette waste is extremely toxic to our environment. The filter of a cigarette is designed to trap the toxic chemicals in the tobacco smoke from entering into the smoker’s body. The small filter, when wet, releases the thousands of toxic chemicals back into the environment. These filters and chemicals are washed into waterways by storm water runoff.
- By eliminating tobacco litter, colleges are not only decreasing the cost and time associated with cleaning up tobacco litter and increasing campus beautification, but decreasing the fire risk on campus.
Changing Tobacco Use Behavior
- Comprehensive tobacco use policies (e.g., smoke-free policies) have been found to change tobacco use behavior in workplaces.
- A study published in the British Medical Journal (2002) concluded that tobacco users who worked in a completely smoke-free environment were more likely to quit using tobacco than their counterparts working in areas without strong smoke-free policies. Additionally, individuals working in smoke-free environments were more likely to decrease the number of cigarettes they smoked throughout the day.
- Smoke-free campus policies have been proven to decrease current smoking prevalence in students, to decrease the number of cigarettes used by those who continue to smoke and to increase favorable attitudes toward regulation of tobacco. These policies influence students’ perceptions about peer smoking (i.e. social norms). Students become less convinced that other students are tobacco users, and are less likely to use tobacco based on misperceptions about a high smoking prevalence among their peers.
Encouraging Students Not to Start Smoking
- Historically, most tobacco users started smoking or using smokeless tobacco before the age of 18. During the last 20 years, this pattern of new addiction has been changing. A recent study found one-fifth of smokers reported starting after the age of 18. Among individuals who started using tobacco before 18, regular or daily smoking was not established until the ages of 20 or 21.
- Internal tobacco industry documents support this belief and argue the transition from experimentation to a “confirmed” smoker can occur up to the age of 25. The college years have been identified as a time of increased risk for smoking initiation and transition into regular tobacco use.
- As students graduate, they will be transitioning into tobacco-free environments. In California, the majority of hospitals and K-12 campuses are 100 percent smoke free or tobacco free. Nationwide, worksites, college campuses, health care centers and outdoor recreational facilities are adopting comprehensive tobacco use policies.