WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) wrote to college presidents across Connecticut to urge them to join the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Tobacco-Free College Campus initiative in order to reduce rates of tobacco-related disease. This initiative was developed by HHS, the American College Health Association, and the University of Michigan in 2012 to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning across the United States.
Murphy’s action today expands on his efforts to reduce smoking in public places. When Murphy served in the Connecticut General Assembly, he introduced and helped pass Connecticut’s Clean Indoor Air Act which prohibits smoking in workplaces with five or more employees and in restaurants and bars across the state.
Last week, Gateway Community College announced its decision to become a smoke-free campus, making it the second campus in Connecticut to be either smoke-free or tobacco-free.
Full text of Murphy’s letter:
February 5, 2014
As a longtime advocate of reducing smoking in public places, I write today to ask that you join the Department of Health and Human Services’ effort to curb smoking on college campuses through their Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative.
As you may know, in September 2012, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative (TFCCI) to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning across the United States. This is a collaboration between HHS, the American College Health Association, and the University of Michigan. According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, there are nearly 1,200 smoke-free campuses, of which 811 were tobacco-free. The TFCCI has helpful resources on ways to implement a smoke-free or tobacco-free campus.
Earlier this month marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark report by the Surgeon General on the dangers of smoking. The harmful effects on smoking could not be clearer today but this report was the first to identify smoking as a cause of lung cancer. Since then, thirty other Surgeon General reports have linked smoking and secondhand smoke to other debilitating conditions, such as heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. While much progress has been made since its release, it’s clear that we must still do more. Today, approximately 1 in 5 people, or 43 million adults, in the United States smoke cigarettes and nearly 16 million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes. Tobacco use is responsible for more than 440,000 deaths a year in the United States, including almost 50,000 from secondhand exposure. Additionally, cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke have cost the United States approximately $200 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. However, the problem is even greater when you consider that, for each person who dies from a smoking-related disease, there are 20 more people who suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.
Since the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act, which I sponsored when I was in the Connecticut General Assembly, our state has taken significant steps to reduce smoking. This law covered workplaces but there is more that can be done on open areas, such as a college campus. Colleges in Connecticut can play a vital role in reducing smoking since approximately one-third of young adults between ages 18 to 24 smoke. As you may know, Gateway Community College recently decided to become a smoke-free campus – the first Connecticut public college or university to do so. Gateway is joining Quinnipiac’s North Haven campus, which is tobacco-free, as the two locations in Connecticut recognized as smoke-free or tobacco-free.
Given the social and economic impact of smoking and the important role that colleges can play in reducing smoking, I urge you to join the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative. Thank you in advance for your consideration.
CHRISTOPHER S. MURPHY
United States Senator