PARAMUS, N.J. – Bergen Community College has received a $12,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation and the American Cancer Society to develop campaigns targeting the elimination of smoking and tobacco use on- and off-campus.
Although the College banned smoking on campus in 2007, the rise of e-cigarettes and other tobacco-delivery devices have prompted institutions to create new efforts for helping students understand the dangers of smoking, tobacco and nicotine. Under its new “Breathe Clear Campus” initiative, the College will become smoke- and tobacco-free by June 2020. Including another $3,600 grant from the New Jersey Prevention Network, the College has received $15,600 to support the program.
“We have an opportunity to create a ‘tobacco-free generation’,” Ian Wolf, Bergen’s coordinator of student conduct and information who co-chairs the campus taskforce, said. “That’s a powerful statement, but with the assistance of these grants, at least here at Bergen, we can make this lofty goal a reality.”
Bergen’s Student Government Association chief justice and taskforce co-chair Gabriella Setti agreed.
“Using this funding, we plan to review Bergen's current policies and implement new strategies that will allow us to reach our goal,” she said.
Recent data from a public opinion poll conducted by Morning Consult for CVS Health showed 57 percent of U.S. college students say a tobacco-free campus is important to them when considering applying to or attending a college. Data from this research and other studies have prompted Bergen’s Office of Student Life & Conduct and Student Government Association to identify tobacco use as a focus area for action. The groups collaborated to apply for grants and develop a plan for what would become “Breathe Clear Campus” taskforce.
"This is a community initiative, meaning that we will be reliant on bystander intervention and involvement from all campus partners," said Wolf. “This work is not only about compliance; it’s more about being consistent.”
Bergen will host prevention education activities including health fairs and town hall forums to discuss the dangers of tobacco use and share prevention methods with students. A national event, “the Great American Smokeout,” which challenges smokers to quit cigarettes for 24 hours, will also take place.