College Students Push for Smoke to Clear

Students, faculty, staff and community members signed in support of a smoke-free campus.

PARAMUS, N.J. – More than 75 students, faculty, staff and community members pledged their support of a smoke-, tobacco- and vape-free Bergen Community College campus as part of the American Cancer Society’s national “Great American Smokeout” Nov. 21.

“The Great American Smokeout helped to raise awareness regarding the vaping epidemic and associated lung-related injury,” Coordinator of Student Conduct and Student Information Ian Wolf, noting that the event coincides with the work of the institution’s Breathe Clear Campus Taskforce, which seeks to develop a healthy college community, said. “We view the Great American Smokeout event as a launch point for making a cultural shift on campus for a healthier and safer community – not one stand-alone event.”

According to Wolf, the event achieved two objectives – raising awareness about a Bergen policy change to include e-cigarettes as part of its Breathe Clear Campus initiative and educating the community about the negatives of vaping.

Although the College banned smoking on campus in 2007, the rise of e-cigarettes and other tobacco-delivery devices have prompted institutions to create new efforts for helping students understand the dangers of smoking, tobacco and nicotine. In a survey conducted from a representative sample of students in writing 101 courses at the College in the spring 2019 semester, the majority of students remain in favor of banning e-cigarettes at Bergen campuses.

In March, the College received a $12,000 grant from the CVS Health Foundation and the American Cancer Society to develop campaigns targeting the elimination of smoking and tobacco use on- and off-campus. Including another $3,600 grant from the New Jersey Prevention Network, the College has received $15,600 to support the program. Under its new “Breathe Clear Campus” initiative, the College will become smoke- and tobacco-free by June 2020.

Among the activities at the November Smokeout event, the College partnered with Bergen New Bridge Medical Center physicians to discuss the dangers and health risks of vaping, dental hygiene and respiratory care students offered complimentary oral cancer screenings and pulmonary function tests, while student government association leaders sponsored “cold turkey networking,” a turkey sandwich luncheon for anyone attempting to cease using tobacco or nicotine products.

“More than 60 individuals received free oral cancer screenings and more than 25 individuals received free pulmonary function tests by students in our dental hygiene and respiratory care programs,” Han Eul (Robin) Yoo, of Mahwah, co-chair of the Breathe Clear Campus Taskforce and chief justice of the student government association said. “I would like to thank everyone who participated and helped to make the event a success.”

For more information on the initiative, visit www.bergen.edu/breatheclearcampus or email [email protected].

Based in Paramus, Bergen Community College (www.bergen.edu), a public two-year coeducational college, enrolls more than 13,000 students at locations in Paramus, the Philip Ciarco Jr. Learning Center in Hackensack and Bergen Community College at the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst. The College offers associate degree, certificate and continuing education programs in a variety of fields. More students graduate from Bergen than any other community college in the state.

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