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Colleges unveil campus art to promote smoke- and tobacco-free policies

From sculpting a bench to painting a mural, students at five colleges and universities created campus artwork that celebrates their school going 100 percent smoke- or tobacco-free with help from Truth Initiative®.

The schools, grantees of the tobacco-free college program at Truth Initiative, are the first participants in the truth x arts college mural contest. The competition challenged students to showcase the importance of their school’s new or upcoming 100 percent smoke- or tobacco-free policy.

The schools that submitted winning proposals—Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.; Pitt Community College in Winterville, N.C.; Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Fla.; Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pa.; and Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss.—received up to $1,000 for materials to create the artwork.

save your brain mural
smoke free like the wolves mural

“The art is really cool,” said Denise Smith, HBCU manager of the Community and Youth Engagement program at Truth Initiative. “Each campus had its own artistic expression about what their smoke-free campus efforts meant to them, and it came out through the art they created.” Each campus unveiled their artwork at an event with a truth® DJ, giveaways and games.

Meredith Morrison, a senior at Cheyney University, helped create a campus bench with images of wolves—the school mascot—where people “can enjoy the benefits of a smoke-free campus environment.”

“Both of my grandfathers died from complications from emphysema brought on by smoking, so Truth Initiative strikes an incredibly personal cord with me,” Morrison said. “I've seen the health problems that smoking brings on and I don't want anyone else to go through those issues. A smoke-free campus is a starting point, and I hope this helps raise awareness about how real and serious tobacco-related illnesses are.”

Fellow student Veronica Lynn Becerra, who also worked on the bench, said that “ultimately, I hope that this project encourages others to protect and serve the environment and or potentially inspire others to positively impact nature and the community.”

The mural contest is part of the “truth x CVS Health Foundation” tobacco-free campus initiative, a partnership between Truth Initiative and the CVS Health Foundation to help historically black colleges and universities and community colleges advance their campus policy efforts.

Most HBCUs and community colleges do not have comprehensive smoke- or tobacco-free policies, yet these institutions are important for tobacco prevention and cessation because they tend to serve more minority, low-income and first-generation students, who are at greater risk for tobacco use. Not only that, but virtually all—99 percent—smokers start smoking before turning 27 years old.

Since 2015, Truth Initiative has partnered with 135 community colleges and HBCUs to help them go smoke- or tobacco-free with grants and technical assistance.