Washington, DC — Today, Truth Initiative and Shaw University hosted 33 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to kick-off the Tobacco-Free HBCU Campus Initiative. Led by Truth Initiative and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, the initiative provides grants to HBCUs to assist them in their efforts to establish comprehensive tobacco-free policies on their campuses.
“For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted minority communities, particularly African Americans, with intense advertising and promotional efforts,” said Dr. Regina Benjamin, former U.S. Surgeon General. “As a result of this investment, African Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S.”
This first-of-its-kind national effort works with HBCUs to change the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use on their campuses. Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 47,000 African Americans die from smoking-related disease. While the overall use of cigarettes among youth in the U.S. has declined, smoking among ethnic minorities is still prevalent.
“Working with HBCUs, we can reach young adults at risk of starting to smoke cigarettes and alternative tobacco products such as little cigars and cigarillos,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative. “HBCUs are home to students and faculty who deserve to enjoy healthy tobacco-free environments. We are thrilled to be working with 33 different campuses around the country to make that happen.”
“Shaw University is proud to be a part of this initiative and to host our fellow HBCUs for the launch,” said Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, President, Shaw University. “We look forward to collaborating with other HBCUs to end tobacco use on our campuses and protect our community from tobacco-related illness and disease.”
Thirty-three campuses will receive funds and assistance as part of a first wave of grantees to participate in the initiative. Students, faculty and staff at each school will participate in a task force charged with assessing tobacco use on their campus. Each school will also develop a public-education campaign to support establishment of a comprehensive tobacco-free policy on that campus. The 33 campuses are:
Alcorn State University – Alcorn, Mississippi
Arkansas Baptist College – Little Rock, Arkansas
Benedict College – Columbia, South Carolina
Bluefield State – Bluefield, West Virginia
Bowie State University – Bowie, Maryland
Cheyney University – Cheyney, Pennsylvania
Coahoma Community College – Clarksdale, Mississippi
Fisk University – Nashville, Tennessee
Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, Florida
Florida Memorial University – Miami Gardens, Florida
Hinds Community College – Utica, Mississippi
Howard University – Washington, D.C.
Jackson State University – Jackson, Mississippi
Jarvis Christian College – Hawkins, Texas
Lincoln University – Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
Meharry Medical College – Nashville, Tennessee
Mississippi Valley State University – Itta Bena, Mississippi
Morris College – Sumter, South Carolina
Norfolk State University – Norfolk, Virginia
North Carolina Central University – Durham, North Carolina
North Carolina A&T University – Greensboro, North Carolina
Prairie View A&M University – Prairie View, Texas
Rust College – Holly Springs, Mississippi
Southwestern Christian College – Terrell, Texas
Spelman College – Atlanta, Georgia
Shaw University – Raleigh, North Carolina
St. Augustine’s University – Raleigh, North Carolina
Shorter College – North Little Rock, Arkansas
Talladega College – Talladega, Alabama.
Tennessee State University – Nashville, Tennessee
Texas College – Tyler, Texas
University of Maryland – Eastern Shore – Princess Anne, Maryland
University of the District of Columbia – Washington, D.C.
Several national partners are collaborating with Truth Initiative to support the HBCUs including: African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council; Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Foundation; Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative; National African American Tobacco Prevention Network; The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco Free Living; Tobacco Control Network and the Tobacco Related Disease Research Program.
For additional information about the Tobacco-Free HBCU Initiative, visit www.truthinitiative.org.
About Truth Initiative:
Truth Initiative is a national public health organization that is inspiring tobacco-free lives and building a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. The truth about tobacco and the tobacco industry are at the heart of our proven-effective and nationally recognized truth® public education campaign, our rigorous and scientific research and policy studies, and our innovative community and youth engagement programs supporting populations at high risk of using tobacco. The Washington D.C.-based organization, formerly known as Legacy, was established and funded through the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between attorneys general from 46 states, five U.S. territories and the tobacco industry. To learn more about our work speaking, seeking and spreading the truth about tobacco, visit www.truthinitiative.org.