Even though smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death, for many campuses tobacco has not received the attention it deserves. The good news is that approximately 70% of college students nationwide do not smoke. The bad news is that around 30% do, with many beginning after they arrive on campus. The BACCHUS Network™, with the assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and several states, has developed comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation curriculum geared toward the college student and the campus as a whole. For some campuses, a comprehensive, year-round campaign is unreasonable due to limited staffing and resources. However, peer educators and advisors can still promote smoking cessation on campus by participating in the annual Collegiate Smokeout, a derivative of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout.
The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew out of a 1974 event when Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the first D-Day or Don't Smoke Day in Central Minnesota. The idea caught on, and on Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society succeeded in getting nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Great American Smokeout, which went nationwide in 1977. As more and more college campuses began to address smoking, it became clear that the smokeout idea made for an opportune initiative to address tobacco with college students, as well. The BACCHUS Network™ now supports the yearly Collegiate Smokeout, the third Thursday of November.
Since 2000, The BACCHUS Network™ has addressed tobacco issues in earnest, developing informational and promotional materials, along with the comprehensive S.T.E.P. by STEP program. The program guides campuses through best practices for creating/updating policies, preventing initiation of tobacco use and promoting cessation. The S.T.E.P. by STEP program is available through The BACCHUS Materials Center. For those wanting to participate in the Collegiate Smokeout, campus affiliates will be sent basic tobacco programming information, sample materials, and a materials catalog. Look for these packets in the mail in October. You may also want to review www.tobaccofreeU.org for additional programming ideas. If you have questions, feel free to contact any of our tobacco staff members at the BACCHUS national office at 303-871-0901.