Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death, responsible for 480,000 deaths a year in the United States. As highlighted in the 2014 Surgeon General's Report, cigarette smoking alone is responsible for more deaths than HIV/AIDS, alcohol, motor vehicle crashes, homicide, suicide, illegal drugs and fires - COMBINED.
And these statistics do not include the numerous, serious health problems, financial costs, and lost productivity associated with tobacco use. Tobacco addiction begins almost exclusively among youth and young adults. The 2012 Surgeon General's Report shows that 99% of smokers begin smoking and using other forms of tobacco by age 26, making college and university campuses a critical target for tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts.
In an effort to protect our youth and young adults against this epidemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative (TFCCI) to promote and support the adoption and implementation of tobacco-free policies at universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher learning across the United States. TFCCI is a partnership of HHS, the American College Health Association and the University of Michigan, with lead sponsorship from the American Legacy Foundation. The Initiative collaborates closely with academic leaders, public health advocates, students, researchers, and other concerned citizens across the U.S. to accelerate the elimination of tobacco use on college campuses everywhere.
This is a lofty goal, but an attainable one, as we are witnessing exponential growth in the adoption of these policies by academic institutions in all regions of the country.
TFCCI was launched in September 2012 by U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, and other educational and tobacco policy experts at an internationally webcast symposium at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The event occurred simultaneously with the launch of this website, which was created to serve as a clearinghouse of key information to assist educational communities to establish their own tobacco-free environments. With this in mind, the site has grown to include news updates, state-specific information, links to TFCCI's Twitter feed and Facebook page, a wide range of external resources, and referrals to national experts (just ask).
The University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network (UMTRN) facilitates the Initiative and administers this website, which is an independently funded endeavor conducted in collaboration with academic and public health leaders across the United States. TFCCI and UMTRN are directed by Clifford Douglas, J.D., a lecturer in tobacco control and public health policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health who also serves as consulting tobacco control policy advisor for HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. The University of Michigan, whose own comprehensive smoke-free policy went into effect in 2011, and the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network are pleased to host this website in support of TFCCI in collaboration with a number of leading sponsors and partners.
TFCCI's mission emphasizes the inclusion of universities, colleges, community colleges, and other educational institutions within very diverse environments. The resources it provides are varied and can be customized to individual circumstances. Success in this popular, collective endeavor can protect millions of lives. We look forward to working with you.