The Smoke-Free HCC Initiative
Consider these numbers: 480,000 people in the United States and 7 million worldwide die from tobacco products annually. With 7,000 chemicals including 69 carcinogens, secondhand smoke exposure kills 112 people in the nation each day.
These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now coupled with its new concerns with the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases: Smokers with certain health conditions are at a higher risk of severe illness from the pandemic.
Houston Community College is taking action.
The health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff, and all of the tenants in our facilities is a top priority of our college. As a grant recipient of Truth Initiative, a nonprofit, public health organization, HCC is striving to join more than 2,500 campuses of higher learning across the nation to become a smoke- and tobacco-free education site.
Spearheaded by the HCC Environmental Enhancement and Wellness Committee, the initiative will allow HCC to become the first smoke-free community college in the greater Houston area.
- Over 1100 HCC students, faculty, and staff responded
- 85% students, faculty, and staff do not smoke at all
- 20% of Full-time student respondents are smokers
- 44% of student respondents expressed interest in HCC cessation resources
- 60% of student respondents are in support of a smoke and tobacco-free campus 73% of faculty or staff respondents
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Truth Initiative
WE ARE A 100% SMOKE-FREE COLLEGE!
As a recipient of a Truth Initiative grant, HCC is now a 100 percent tobacco/vape-free college environment consistent with more than 2,500 higher education campus sites across the nation participating in the Truth’s smoke-free grant program.
Under this policy, tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and hookah, is prohibited on campus at all times. The policy applies to all indoor and outdoor facilities and grounds, including parking lots and athletic facilities.
A college with a comprehensive smoke-free policy helps to ensure our campuses are healthier for our students, faculty, staff, tenants and visitors promoting a culture of health and well-being on campus by:
- preventing young adults from starting tobacco use
- making it easier for smokers to quit, and
- reducing cigarette litter, maintenance costs and the risk of fire
Among other benefits, a tobacco-free policy eliminates secondhand smoke exposure, which research shows has a potential negative impact on academic performance. Meanwhile, the policy also better prepares students for the workforce as an increasing number of worksites prohibit tobacco use.
Help has arrived
In conjunction with the smoke-free initiative, HCC Environmental Enhancement and Wellness Committee is developing a comprehensive strategy to provide solid support to accessing counseling, referrals and treatment for those seeking smoking cessation among an array of services.
Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists- Counselors @HCC | Houston Community College - HCC (hccs.edu)
Employee Assistance Program- Employee and Student Assistance Programs | Houston Community College - HCC (hccs.edu)
This is Quitting- text message program- This is Quitting (truthinitiative.org)
Become an Ex- digital quit-smoking plan and online community- Quit smoking and vaping tools (truthinitiative.org)Policies and Regulations
Houston Community College Announces adoption of TOBACCO/VAPE-FREE POLICY
Houston Community College adopted a 100 percent tobacco/vape-free policy and regulations effective April 2021. The policy follows a grant from Truth Initiative®, the national public health organization that is inspiring lives free from smoking, vaping and nicotine and building a culture where all young people reject tobacco. The grant was awarded to support HCC’s efforts to advocate for, adopt and implement a 100 percent tobacco/vape-free college policy. HCC now joins a nationwide movement that addresses tobacco use at all college campuses throughout the U.S.
A 100 percent tobacco-free policy prohibits the use of any tobacco product, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, hookah, smokeless tobacco and other smokeless products on campus. The new policy applies to anyone on campus and on any campus property.
Cessation resources for students and employees is available. Please access the link below for more information.
Smoke Free HCC | Houston Community College - HCC (hccs.edu)
Houston Community College’s efforts are part of a growing trend to clean the air on campuses. Currently, more than 2,500 higher education institutions in the U.S. have gone smoke- or tobacco-free. Today, 34 million Americans ages 18 and above still smoke and tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable death in this country. Research also shows that there are dire health consequences for nonsmokers, too. Secondhand smoke exposure causes cancer and cardiovascular disease among other secondhand smoke diseases, which are responsible for more than 41,000 deaths among nonsmoking adults in the U.S. The dangers of tobacco use are especially dire now, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named smoking a risk factor for developing severe illness from COVID-19. Additionally, research shows that young people who reported ever using e-cigarettes were up to five times more likely to test positive for COVID-19.
For more information, visit Smoke Free HCC | Houston Community College - HCC (hccs.edu).
Many thanks to the members of the Environmental Enhancement and Wellness Committee for their dedication to this important initiative.
What is included in the tobacco free policy?
HCC prohibits all forms of tobacco products. “Tobacco” is defined as all tobacco and tobacco-derived products intended for human consumption, including, but not limited to: cigarettes, cigars, hookah-smoked products, clove and electronic cigarettes, bidis, kreteks, smokeless tobacco, and snus. This definition does not include any product that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco use cessation product.
Who does the policy apply to?
The tobacco-free policy applies to all college staff, faculty, students, visitors, and vendors and is driven by respect for others and the environment.
Will there be designated smoking areas on campus?
No. The use of tobacco is prohibited on all college grounds
What about athletic games, concerts, or other events?
All events occurring on college property are covered by the tobacco-free policy.
Isn't this a violation of my civil rights?
No, a tobacco-free policy is not a violation of an individual's civil rights. There is no state or federal law that provides a "right" to smoke or use tobacco. In addition, the college has the authority to govern and regulate the use of its facilities and properties.
Don’t I have a right to smoke on campus?
No. There is no “right” to use tobacco under either state or federal law. Additionally, court rulings maintain that smokers do not have the legal right to expose others to secondhand smoke, a Class A carcinogen, and they are not entitled to protection against discrimination as “addicts” or as “disabled persons.”
Isn’t it my right to use tobacco?
Tobacco use is a legal product for adults. However, the college owns campus property and can establish policies that protect the health of all college members. A tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; the policy merely establishes where use can occur.