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Tobacco-Free Campuses Summit offers guidance to improve health of learning environment

December 3, 2012

TACOMA, WA - Students and education leaders from the Puget Sound region can learn about the benefits of creating healthier college campuses at the Tobacco-Free Alliance of Pierce County’s Annual Summit. “Tobacco-Free College Campuses: Promoting a Culture of Health,” is scheduled for this Friday, Dec. 7, at Pacific Lutheran University from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in Chris Knutzen Hall.

Attendees will hear from peer institutions that have created tobacco free campuses and learn strategies for creating a tobacco-free environment as well as the health impacts of a tobacco free campus. The tobacco-free campuses summit event is free, but those interested should register online as soon as possible to guarantee a spot. Learn more at

“We live in a state where approximately 16 percent of Washington’s young adults age 18-24 smoke,” said Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH, director of health at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “Tobacco-free campus policies are an important initiative that can help to protect the health and well-being of students as well as, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Chen, who will be a featured speaker at the event.

Tobacco-free campuses can help students quit using tobacco - or help prevent them from ever starting. In fact, the Surgeon General’s report on preventing youth tobacco use found that young people who don’t use tobacco by age 26 are far less likely to ever use tobacco.

"It's been almost 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s report on tobacco and disease and the tobacco epidemic has claimed thousands of lives from multiple generations,” said Patrick O’Carroll, MD, MPH, assistant surgeon general and regional health administrator, Health and Human Services Region X. “By creating healthier communities through tobacco-free college and university campuses, we can help end this war," said O’Carroll, who will be the keynote speaker at the summit.

The American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation has identified 608 U.S. colleges and universities with 100 percent tobacco-free campuses, including six in Washington: Everett Community College, Northwest University, Lower Columbia College, Walla Walla University, Washington State University Spokane-Riverpoint Campus and most recently Pacific Lutheran University. PLU was the first campus in Pierce County to go 100 percent tobacco-free.

Colleges and universities can explore becoming a tobacco-free campus with help from the Community Transformation Partnership (CTP), a coalition of community groups, local leaders and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, working to create a healthier Pierce County with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at

About the Tobacco-free Alliance of Pierce County
: TAP is leading CTP’s effort to create smoke and tobacco-free environments where people live, learn, work and play. Whether you’re a student, staff member, or administrator, TAP can help you take the next steps towards a healthier campus. TAP can also link students and staff to free tobacco cessation resources. Learn more at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager, (253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822,
Kathleen MacGuire, Program Coordinator, (253) 798-3792,

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