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33 HBCUs going tobacco-free

Truth Initiative convened the 33 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are the first to participate in its Tobacco-Free HBCU Campus Initiative at Shaw University in North Carolina to kick off the new grant program. Led by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, the initiative helps HBCUs establish comprehensive tobacco-free policies on their campuses.

The number of smoke- and tobacco-free colleges in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2010, when 446 campuses had adopted smoke- or tobacco-free policies. Today that number stands at 1,577 campuses, yet the majority of the 105 federally-recognized HBCUs in the U.S. do not have comprehensive smoke- or tobacco-free policies to protect their students and faculty from the dangers of tobacco use and second-hand smoke.

Dr. Benjamin explained: “For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted minority communities, particularly African Americans, with intense advertising and promotional efforts. As a result of this investment, African Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S.”

This first-of-its-kind effort works with HBCUs to change knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about tobacco use on their campuses. Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S. Each year, approximately 47,000 African Americans die from smoking-related disease. While the overall use of cigarettes among youth in the U.S. has declined, smoking among ethnic minorities is still prevalent.

Truth Initiative’s CEO, Robin Koval stressed that: “working with HBCUs, we can reach young adults at risk of starting to smoke cigarettes and alternative tobacco products such as little cigars and cigarillos.”

The schools that make up the first wave of grantees include:

  • Alcorn State University – Alcorn, Mississippi
  • Arkansas Baptist College – Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Benedict College – Columbia, South Carolina
  • Bluefield State – Bluefield, West Virginia
  • Bowie State University – Bowie, Maryland
  • Cheyney University – Cheyney, Pennsylvania
  • Coahoma Community College – Clarksdale, Mississippi
  • Fisk University – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, Florida
  • Florida Memorial University – Miami Gardens, Florida
  • Hinds Community College – Utica, Mississippi
  • Howard University – Washington, D.C.
  • Jackson State University – Jackson, Mississippi
  • Jarvis Christian College – Hawkins, Texas
  • Lincoln University – Lincoln University, Pennsylvania
  • Meharry Medical College – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Mississippi Valley State University – Itta Bena, Mississippi
  • Morris College – Sumter, South Carolina
  • Norfolk State University – Norfolk, Virginia
  • North Carolina Central University – Durham, North Carolina
  • North Carolina A&T University – Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Prairie View A&M University – Prairie View, Texas
  • Rust College – Holly Springs, Mississippi
  • Southwestern Christian College – Terrell, Texas
  • Spelman College – Atlanta, Georgia
  • Shaw University - Raleigh, North Carolina
  • St. Augustine’s University - Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Shorter College - North Little Rock, Arkansas
  • Talladega College - Talladega, Alabama.
  • Tennessee State University – Nashville, Tennessee
  • Texas College – Tyler, Texas
  • University of Maryland - Eastern Shore – Princess Anne, Maryland
  • University of the District of Columbia – Washington, D.C.

Students, faculty and staff at each school will participate in a task force charged with assessing tobacco use on their campus. Each school will also develop a public-education campaign to support establishment of a comprehensive tobacco-free policy on that campus.

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Key takeaways


In the U.S. Each year, approximately 47,000 African Americans die from smoking-related disease.