By Kyle Kidd
Jackson Advocate Guest Writer
Jackson State University recently received the 2022 Tobacco Control Health Leadership Award from the Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, Arizona NAACP, and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Association during the U.S. Public Health Service Symposium.
This award recognizes JSU’s role model tobacco-free campus policy in which tobacco product is defined as any substance containing tobacco leaf, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, blunts, clove cigarettes, or any other preparation of tobacco products.
Henry Thompson, project director of the Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition, was excited to learn that JSU was receiving the award, signifying a bold step in enacting a cultural shift across college campuses where young people begin to reject tobacco products.
“I was overjoyed once I received word that JSU was going to receive the ACAS award. My student college leaders, Ms. Imara Walker and Mr. LyJohn Denis, worked very hard on the Truth Initiative Project and were very instrumental in the process of the smoke-free policy,” said Thompson.
Recent trends and statistics have shown tobacco consumption at a significantly higher rate in Black communities, with more targeted advertisement being shown in these communities promoting tobacco products. Recognizing the public health issue and the social injustice layered into this issue, Thompson encourages more institutions across the country to adopt policies that promote smoke-free environments to curb the ills plaguing black communities.
“Tobacco use is a serious public health issue, but it is also a social justice issue given the disproportionate tobacco-related health outcomes experienced by Black Americans. Adopting this policy shows that our campus is leading the charge where our students, faculty, staff, and administrators choose to live tobacco and vape free,” said Thompson.
ACAS is a non-profit organization that promotes pro-health choices through public awareness campaigns regarding the harmful effects of tobacco use, especially when in enclosed public spaces. As part of the ongoing campaign, ACAS works closely with state institutions, institutions of higher learning, parks, sports arenas, and shopping centers to encourage the implementation of a tobacco and smoke-free campus.
The Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, Inc. annual event is dedicated to the work of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers. Additionally, many of the nation’s top federal, tribal, and state public health providers, administrators, and emergency responders received recognition for their hard work in public health during the pandemic.