In a significant win for public health in Louisiana, Senate Bill 36 was unanimously approved, requiring public post-secondary education institutions across Louisiana to develop and implement smoke-free polices on their campuses by August 1, 2014.
On behalf of the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and our many partners, I appreciate State Senator David Heitmeier for considering the health of our young adults, as well as the faculty, employees and visitors on college campuses across the state.
Louisiana consistently trails in health reports. Currently, it’s ranked at 49th out of 50 states, tied with Mississippi for the worst overall state health due to high rates of cardiovascular and cancer deaths, diabetes and obesity, according to United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings. Additionally, the Surgeon General’s 2012 Report: Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, indicated that social norms influence young people to try tobacco products. It also found most people who smoke in public do so because there are no comprehensive smoke-free laws.
The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL), program of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and administered by LPHI, along with many collaborative, multi-sector partners and advocates, will continue to work with Louisiana’s colleges and universities to achieve 100 percent tobacco-free policies. The entire Southern University System, along with Nicholls State University and Delta Community College have already implemented the “Gold Standard” of tobacco-free policies, prohibiting the use and sale of any type of tobacco product on campus.
Louisiana as a whole is making strides in public health. We are excited about the progress to normalize tobacco-free living across the state. Join TFL in our efforts by visiting www.tobaccofreeliving.org. For those interested in quitting smoking, call the Louisiana Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Torrie T. Harris, Dr.P.H, MPH,
Division Director, Community Health & TFL
Louisiana Public Health Institute