FAMU’s tobacco-free policies help students to breathe easy


Many people say it’s disgusting to see a tobacco-free commercial of a woman who has no teeth and a hole in her throat as she battles with oral and throat cancer.

These commercials aren’t just meant to be alarming, they are meant to bring awareness to the immediate damage tobacco can cause one’s body.

According to the Florida Tobacco Bureau, “Big Tobacco” is targeted to African-Americans to lure them into using its tobacco products. Studies have also shown that African-Americans suffer more from lung cancer than any other ethnic group.

Mary Simmons, interim cardiopulmonary science division director in the School of Allied Health Sciences, said she wanted to use her research to help combat the large numbers of blacks who get lung cancer.

“I realized a problem in the African-American community, and I had to find a solution by doing my own research,” Simmons said.

The Florida Tobacco Bureau recognized that African-American communities are targets to the tobacco companies, which is why they granted funds for HBCUs to address the issues on campuses.

Alyssa Crawford, a third-year nursing student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she agrees with FAMU’s smoke-free policies.

“I feel as though the entire campus should be a smoke-free zone,” Crawford said. “Taking needed steps at a time is definitely a start.”

19 Florida college campuses have taken the challenge to become smoke-free by implementing regulations on campuses.

Simmons said In 2010, SOAHS served as the advisory board by receiving a $7,500 grant. The advisory board created a health council, which meets once per month to address physical activity, nutrition and tobacco issues around campus.

Deontae Johnson, a senior cardiopulmonary student from St. Petersburg, Fla., said the fact that FAMU is a smoke-free campus shows that administrators care about the health and prosperity of students.

“I believe it’s an overall good look for FAMU because it shows that we’re taking strides to protect and improve the health and well-being of not only students but for all of the campus community,” Johnson said.

The advisory board has taken action by conducting a health and wellness survey for the student body concerning the issues of health and tobacco. The data from that survey help develop a health and wellness plan by using the grant money for educational materials, seminars and developing surveys.

“There are a lot of steps you have to consider when there is more than one person making decisions,” Simmons said. “These steps have to be taken when impacting a new policy.”

The board is currently working on surveying the students, faculty and staff before bringing it to the board of trustees for approval. The board plans on implementing breathe-easy zones around campus designated for students who don’t smoke tobacco.

Kandy Wood, an assistant professor and coordinator of clinical education in cardiopulmonary science in SOAHS, said the main goal of the board is not to deprive students but rather to protect them.

“We want students to see this has a protection metabolism rather than taking away something from them,” Wood said.