September 9, 2008

College Students Continue To Use Tobacco

According to an American Lung Association report released on Monday, roughly one in five college students in 2006 took up or continued to smoke cigarettes. The group is blaming aggressive tobacco industry marketing.

The report, "Big Tobacco on Campus: Ending the Addiction," was compiled from published research, surveys, and tobacco industry documents.

The American Lung Association reports says that in 2005 the tobacco industry spent over $1 million a day targeting college students.  In a recent survey, students at 109 of 119 surveyed colleges reported seeing tobacco promotions on campus.

"Tobacco companies exploit vulnerability among young smokers by sponsoring promotions in bars, nightclubs, and other venues to encourage smoking as a social norm, moving them from an 'experimenter' to a 'mature' smoker," the report says.

According to Bernadette A. Toomey, CEO and President of the American Lung Association, the industry's return on investment with college students is staggering. 

"Every college student in America has a target on their back as far as the tobacco industry is concerned," said Toomey.

Toomey says schools "have a responsibility to provide safe spaces in which their students can learn and live. This should include an environment free from secondhand smoke and advertising that encourages young adults to use deadly tobacco products."

The American Lung Association wants colleges to join the Smoke free Air 2010 Challenge, a movement to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke in public places. 

The group is asking schools to implement a number of policies this year including, prohibiting tobacco use at all indoor and outdoor facilities, stopping the sale and advertising of tobacco products on campus, refusing all research and sponsorship funding from tobacco companies, providing smoking cessation programs, and to lobby for state legislatures to outlaw tobacco on college campuses.


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