Letter to the editor: Educate incoming students on smoking risks

Dear University Times,

My name is Paras Chand, and I am a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh and president of Tobacco-Less Initiative. Nationwide, millions of high school and college students are beginning to indulge in smoking and other nicotine-related activities every day. The CDC reports that “nine out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first tried smoking by age 18.” With an increasing number of flavors and options in vapes and e-cigarettes, younger populations are becoming more inclined to use these products.

Our University is no exception to this trend. Tobacco use is a significant public health issue in Allegheny County; first-hand and second-hand smoke negatively affect those who work, live, and study in the surrounding area. This year, I founded Tobacco-Less Initiative, a student organization aimed to educate the campus community on the adverse health effects of smoking and vaping.

But, in order to reverse this trend of increasing smoking cases, there needs to be a collective effort to educate youth populations, in particular. To create a message or instill an understanding of the potential long-term consequences of tobacco use early on would benefit millions of high school and college students in the long term. That is why I would recommend that the Pitt Pathfinders introduce prospective students to tobacco cessation programs and mental health resources found within the University’s Student Health Services. I would also propose reserving a section of time during freshman orientation to introduce students to the negative consequences of smoking and vaping from a holistic outlook.

The effects of smoking are widespread and deadly. Nicotine addiction causes dependence and significant short-term and long-term complications. We as a campus community need to address these concerns and push an agenda that teaches students about these risk factors for the University’s health and safety.


Paras Chand

President of Tobacco-Less Initiative