Valley joins the Truth Initiative

Updated: May 21, 2019

Smoking on campus will soon be a thing of the past.

By Meg Taylor, News Editor

Photo by Eddie Kaufman-Morrow/Special to the Star

Smoking of all kinds will soon be banned on Valley College’s campus as the result of a $20,000 grant from the Truth Initiative.

Valley was awarded the grant in Nov. 2018 from the Truth Initiative organization, a national  non-profit public health organization dedicated to eliminating smoking, especially for those in the highest group of people who begin smoking every year: 18-26 year old, college-aged youth.

According to the Truth Initiative, “5.6 million children alive today will die prematurely of tobacco-related illness … Ninety-nine percent of daily smokers try their first cigarette before age 27. We’ve made grants to community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country to help them make their campuses tobacco-free.”

The work group at Valley responsible for securing the grant includes William Wallis, Israel Ortiz, David Green, Dr. Douglas Marriott, Dr. Elizabeth Negrete, Dr. Annie Reed, Sarah Song and Jamie Holladay-Collins. The team created smoke and tobacco-free guidelines that are currently being reviewed by the Institutional Effectiveness Committee; the guidelines will then be handed off to the interim president Denise Noldon. These guidelines will turn Valley into a smoke and tobacco-free campus, including vaping and marijuana cigarette use.

“Smoking is not only a health and environmental issue, but it is also a social justice issue,” said Holladay-Collins, an administrative secretary of Academic Affairs. “According to recent studies, 72 percent of smokers are from lower-income communities. Disadvantaged populations such as African-Americans and Latinos have been historically targeted in their own neighborhoods. As an educational institution, it is important that we set a positive example for the next generation of leaders who are present on this campus today.”

Eddie Kaufman-Morrow and Annie Moskofian are two student ambassadors who are working collaboratively with the ASU to represent the grant and help plan campus events to spread awareness. The two traveled to Washington D.C. during spring break to receive training from the Truth Initiative.

“We came back with a couple ideas,” said Kaufman-Morrow. “We did a pizza party to find a small group of students who support the cause, a Cig Butt Clean-Up which helped us win our case, and we are going to have a small exhibit in the fall semester for an Art Showcase … We hope to help create more events to help students become educated in their health, mental health and the plan of ‘Big Tobacco.’”

Prior to the ambassadors’ events, awareness about the non-smoking rule typically appeared in the form of small signs around campus. Valley’s work group on this initiative hopes that they can encourage and promote a healthy campus that is free of smoke and tobacco through a social construct model. To stay up to date on events associated with this initiative, follow @LAVCHealthyCampus on Instagram.

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