New push to make college campuses smoke-free nationwide

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) - A new initiative to ban smoking throughout all college campuses kicks off Wednesday in Ann Arbor.

Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human services will visit the University of Michigan to launch the program.

The Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative aims to eliminate tobacco use on college campuses nationwide.

The University of Michigan already has a policy in place that bans smoking in all buildings and on sidewalks throughout campus. The university isn't the first to go smoke-free, but it's recognized for being a major institution that has adopted the policy with input from the community.

"The need for action is urgent, since the number of smokers who started smoking after age 18 increased from 600,000 in 2002 to 1 million in 2010," said Clifford Douglas, director of the U-M Tobacco Research Network and a lecturer at the School of Public Health.

Nearly 17 percent of colleges have tobacco-free or smoke-free policies in place, but leaders are hoping more join the initiative.

Leaders are also launching a new website, TobaccoFreeCampus.org , which will provide tools for other academic organizations to develop their own smoke-free policies.

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