Saint Mary's Receives $20,000 Grant To Promote A Tobacco-Free Campus

Dr. Ali Rezapour (shown at right) holds a t-shirt promoting Saint Mary's as a smoke-free, tobacco-free campus.Saint Mary's has been awarded a $20,000 grant to promote campus efforts to make the College a tobacco-free institution. The grant is part of the national Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative (TFGCI), a collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation to foster the adoption and implementation of smoke- and tobacco-free policies on college and university campuses across the nation. Saint Mary's is one of only 20 colleges and universities across the country to receive the award.

"We’re proud to be one of the first higher education institutions in the nation to receive this important grant. It reflects Saint Mary's ongoing commitment to promote a healthy lifestyle and campus environment for our students, staff and faculty," said President James Donahue. "Our Health and Wellness Center will take the lead on forming a new task force to explore the necessary steps to make the College tobacco-free.”

The grant is part of an overall $50 million initiative from the CVS Health Foundation that employs educational outreach, advocacy, tobacco control, and healthy behavior programming to reduce smoking and move the nation toward having its first tobacco-free generation.

Dr. Ali Rezapour, director of the Health and Wellness Center, says the TFGCI grant encourages the Saint Mary’s task force to include broad representation from across the College community. In addition to participants from the Health and Wellness Center, Rezapour hopes to include representatives from the Academic Senate, Associated Student Senate, Facilities, Human Resources, Mission and Ministry, Public Safety, Staff Council, and Student Life on the task force.

The new grant will also support a variety of educational outreach efforts, including research and assessments of tobacco use on the campus, town hall gatherings to generate discussions about the College’s policies on smoking, and student-led programs to address the dangers of tobacco and second-hand smoke.

Wearing the Center’s “No Ifs, Ands, or Butts” anti-smoking t-shirts, a group of students, staff and faculty walked to the De LaSalle statue on Monday, Nov. 14 to gather and mark the College’s involvement in the national effort. Seniors Bianca Galvez and Jennifer Vo, both leaders in the student health group Peer Advocacy Towards Campus Health (PATCH), participated in the walk because of their concerns about the hazards of smoking.

A kinesiology major, with an interest in public health, Galvez '17 is studying the links between smoking tobacco and life-threatening  diseases such as cancer, as well as chronic illnesses. “I’m interested in preventing diseases and I think this is an important topic to reach out to students and faculty to raise awareness.”

Vo '17, who is majoring in biology, agreed. “Most studies show that if you start smoking before the age of 25, then you are very, very likely to become a lifetime smoker,” she said. “And if we can eliminate that—because most of our students are under the age of 25—then, they are less likely to become victims of tobacco.”

TFGCI grants are intended to make a major difference in the numbers of the colleges and universities that are smoke-free. According to the Americans for Nonsmokers Rights Foundation, out of 4,700 institutions of higher education nationwide, only 1,427 college campuses are 100 percent smoke-and tobacco-free.

However, both Galvez and Vo hope that as a result of Saint Mary’s participation in the national initiative, that number of smoke-and tobacco-free colleges will increase by one. They’re optimistic the planned TFGCI task force will help change the College’s policies on tobacco use, and make the institution 100 percent smoke and tobacco free.

About The American Cancer Society:
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2 million volunteers saving lives in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 23 percent decline in cancer death rates in the United States since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates.

About the CVS Health Foundation:
The CVS Health Foundation is a private charitable organization created by CVS Health that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. The Foundation provides strategic investments to nonprofit partners throughout the U.S. who help increase community-based access to health care for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming.

Contact

Michael McAlpin, Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office, (925) 878-9535 cell
mdm5@stmarys-ca.edu

About SMC
The Saint Mary's College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For more than 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church's oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,200 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary's College at stmarys-ca.edu and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.