By Latunya Evans, Covid Communications Specialist
Mississippi Valley State University's "Smoke-free and Vape-free Campus" event was recently held at the Bennie G. Thompson Plaza.
Students, faculty, and staff were celebrated for helping to maintain a
smoke-free and vape-free campus. Attendees were offered accessible "Smoke-free and Vape-free Campus" shirts, lunch and enjoyed the music during the in-person event.
The purpose was to encourage students, faculty, and staff to collaborate in continuing to ensure that the campus of MVSU remained smoke-free and vape-free and to acknowledge the University's efforts and success in remaining a smoke-free and vape-free campus.
MVSU began its smoke-free campaign in 2018. The initiative to include vaping started in 2019. While there is much to be learned about the effects of vaping or the use of E-cigarettes, the U.S. Surgeon General reports, use poses a significant – and avoidable – health risk to young people in the United States.
The campaign's purpose was to ensure that the campus was a safe and healthy working and learning environment for its faculty, staff, volunteers, and visitors by adopting a tobacco and smoke-free policy.
MVSU's initiatives to become a smoke and tobacco-free campus began in 2013 with funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The Foundation reported their development and implementation of the University and College Health and Wellness Model designed to serve as a roadmap for creating sustainable healthy campus cultures that extended to the local community and schools. One of the Model's objectives is for a university or college to take action steps toward a tobacco-free campus.
The University was awarded funds to implement the Model known as the Valley in Motion initiative.
"I was invited to participate in the University and College Tobacco-free Campus Collaborative in 2019, where professional healthcare and education experts highlighted the importance of promoting smoke-free, tobacco-free, and vape-free campuses to keep students, faculty, and administrators healthier," said Elizabeth Hurssey, MVSU Human Resources Director.
The current grant is through the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and implemented in three (3) Tiers. In addition, the University's efforts for Tier 2, University, and College Tobacco-Free Policies Strengthened is highlighted in the Foundation's Fall Newsletter at http://webstatic.bcbsms.com/pdf/Fall_Newsletter_2020.pdf.
MVSU is dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of the campus and community by preventing the use of tobacco products, guaranteeing a breathable, smoke-free campus.
The University has completed Tier 0ne and Tier Two, whereas Tier 1 involved strengthening the University's policy for smoke and tobacco-free campus. Tier 2 involved implementing the policy.
"We are hoping that we are awarded funds to implement Tier Three, which will include but not be limited to, assisting our campus community with on-site smoking cessation programs and other needs supported by the Foundation," Hurssey explained.
Each day, about 1,200 people in the United States die due to tobacco inhalation and usage. In a year, the number of deaths due to tobacco inhalation and use is about 440,000.
70.8-percent of United States college students admitted to using E-cigarettes or vape products, 33.7-percent admitted to using cigarettes, and 17.9-percent admitted to using cigars during the fall of 2020.
The usage of tobacco has a tremendous effect on everyone. Tobacco usage causes several cancers, emphysema, stroke, and heart disease. Postoperative infection is twice more likely to occur in active smokers. Second-hand smoking is just as dangerous as actively smoking. Second-hand smoke causes severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.