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February 6, 2001

Students to Help Lead Battle Against Tobacco Use

An ambitious three-year program to reduce tobacco use on campus is underway at California State University, Sacramento. It will use a powerful force to influence students - other students.

A key aspect of the effort between the University's Student Health Center and the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails will be to use student advocacy teams to target tobacco reduction efforts at 18- to 24-year-olds. Twenty-two percent of the "Joe Camel generation" in California use tobacco, the highest amount in 30 years.

The program is funded through a $300,000 grant from Sacramento County's portion of state tobacco litigation funds. California is among the few states that have used their settlement monies for anti-smoking efforts directed at young teens. These states have already seen decreases in smoking among middle and high school students. Project organizers hope the peer component will help them realize similar results among CSUS students.

The student teams will collect information on campus tobacco policies and then survey students, faculty and staff about their awareness of the policies and their willingness to support additional measures.

They will also be involved in developing anti-tobacco messages and policies that will be relevant to their peers. "We want to find out what works for this age group and this campus," says Leslie Snoke of the American Lung Association, who will coordinate the project.

Other goals of the project include providing smoking cessation classes for students, faculty and staff, and inservice training for student groups on the dangers of smoking.

"We are pleased to have the American Lung Association Sacramento-Emigrant Trails on campus over the next there years as we work to decrease tobacco abuse on campus," says Shirley Uplinger, CSUS vice president of student affairs. "We're concerned for the health of our students, faculty and staff and are excited to have such an innovative program here at CSUS."

More information is available by calling Snoke at (916) 444-5864. Media assistance is available by calling the CSUS public affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

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