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Massey researchers receive grant to help VCU adopt tobacco-free campus policy

Headshot of Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D.
Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Two VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers have been awarded a $20,000 grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and CVS Health Foundation to help Virginia Commonwealth University develop and implement a policy that would make the university smoke and tobacco-free in an effort to reduce tobacco use, as well as tobacco-related fire hazards and litter, and promote a safe and healthy campus environment for VCU and its surrounding community.

The grant was awarded to Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director for cancer prevention and Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., Chair in Cancer Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center and professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Policy at VCU School of Medicine, and his colleague Elizabeth Do, Ph.D., M.P.H., member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at Massey and assistant professor in the VCU Department of Health Behavior and Policy. The grant supports research that is assessing the receptivity of students, faculty and staff on both the MCV and Monroe Park Campuses to a smoke and tobacco-free campus policy in order to help inform its development and implementation. It is part of a national effort by ACS and CVS that has awarded more than $1.4 million to 82 schools across the country.

“By providing smoking cessation resources and eliminating second-hand smoke, we create an environment that makes it easier for smokers to quit,” said  Fuemmeler. “Tobacco use and second-hand smoke cause cancer and heart disease and contribute to the highest rate of disease-related death. As providers and promoters of health, it is important that we align our policies with our values that focus on improving community health and wellbeing.”

Elizabeth Do, Ph.D.
Elizabeth Do, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Fuemmeler’s and Do’s research will consist of environmental scans, surveys and key informant interviews. They hope it will help inform the implementation of the proposed policies and also develop a coalition to plan events and other activities that promote a tobacco-free culture.

“VCU is committed to eliminating known health hazards and promoting healthy habits among students, patients, faculty and staff,” Assistant Vice President for Safety and Risk Management Thomas Briggs said. “A smoke and tobacco-free campus policy is a start. Ongoing education and smoking cessation resources will also help our community members make good choices about their health and environment.” 

VCU’s proposed policy is currently open for comment and consideration among students, faculty and staff. If approved, all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, will be prohibited in university facilities and vehicles, and only allowed in designated outdoor smoking areas. The proposed policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, contractors and campus visitors. Details about the proposed policy are available at tobaccofree.vcu.edu.

The proposed policy does not apply to smoking cessation products designed to treat tobacco or nicotine dependence. In addition to the policy draft and implementation, VCU’s Office of Safety and Risk Management is working with Massey Cancer Center, VCU Human Resources and The Well, VCU’s student wellness center, to offer smoking cessation programs, educational materials and other resources to help tobacco users quit. More information about these programs and resources will be available in the coming months.

VCU will also host a Virginia Tobacco-free Higher Education Summit in April with partners from University of Virginia.

VCU Health System’s smoke and tobacco-free policy has been in effect since 2010.

Feedback received during the open comment period will be considered for inclusion in the final policy draft. Upon the close of the open comment period, a revised policy will be reviewed by University Council and then go before the VCU President’s Cabinet for review and approval. If approved, the policy will be implemented beginning July 1, 2019. More information can be found at tobaccofree.vcu.edu/.

Written by: University Relations

Category: Prevention & control