It is the mission of COUGH, a statewide student-led coalition, to ensure a healthy campus environment free of tobacco and tobacco industry presence. COUGH is committed to promoting, establishing, and sustaining safer and healthier California colleges and universities through tobacco-free policy, education, and cessation.


  • Promote tobacco-free policy adoption, implementation, and enforcement.

  • Advocate for effective and accessible cessation services.

  • Educate campus communities on comprehensive tobacco issues.

  • Prevent and respond to the evolving threat of new tobacco and nicotine products to our campus communities.


Campuses Organized and United for Good Health (COUGH) originated in the spring of 2002 as a statewide student-led advocacy campaign. The campaign began in response to a legal issue at the California State University (CSU) system.

On June 13, 2001, the CSU General Counsel sent a memorandum to all campus presidents notifying them that they could not adopt any policy stronger than California State Law (no smoking within 5-ft. of buildings [state law in 2001]).   This memorandum prevented student advocates and tobacco prevention agencies from continuing any smoke-free policy work on CSU campuses. This communication from the Chancellor’s Office also reversed any policies on campuses that exceeded the 5-ft. law.

In response to the CSU memo, a steering committee was organized of CSU faculty, staff, students, and tobacco prevention agency persons. Out of the steering committee came a student workgroup which organized a group of CSU students. These students, from seven CSU campuses, created the identity and goals of what is known throughout the nation as COUGH.

COUGH student representatives met with the CSU Board of Trustees in May 2002 to ask them to grant policy making authority to individual college campuses. In September 2002, the Trustees adopted a Title V amendment giving power back to the campuses and recommending all campuses adopt a minimum 20-ft. entryway policy.

In January 2004, AB 846 (Vargas) increased protection of building entryways by extending the 5-ft. smoke-free area to 20-ft.  In addition to an increase in distance, the Assembly Bill added public colleges and universities to the language. Unknowingly, the Bill was a turning point for tobacco control advocates on college campuses. One month following the implementation of AB 846, COUGH refocused its efforts to include policy initiatives at the University of California as well as California Community Colleges.

COUGH Student Leadership Board

The COUGH Student Leadership Board is made of 15-20 undergraduate and graduate students interested in working closely with CYAN staff on specific projects for statewide college tobacco-free efforts.  Established in 2002, the COUGH Student Leadership Board is a great way to acquire personalized, in-person training and experience in the fields of policy advocacy, public health, tobacco control, and community organizing.


2018-2019 COUGH Student Leadership Board

2018-2019 COUGH Student Leadership Board

  • Be a part of a statewide movement to make positive change in the world.

  • Get connected with organizations that are hiring in the fields of public health, community organizing, tobacco treatment, and tobacco education.

  • Network with other college advocates from around the state and gain ideas for your campus.

  • Strengthen public speaking and communication skills by providing presentations and trainings to peers and professionals in the field.

  • Participate in policy advocacy activities such as meeting with decision-makers, creating a policy change strategy plan, and promoting the benefits of a smoke and tobacco-free campus.

  • Develop marketing and messaging skills by conducting research and designing messaging.

  • Get up to date on the latest tobacco use trends and products.

  • Learn how to talk to family and friends about tobacco issues.

  • Increase experience for resume/graduate school 

  • Learn to work with a team whose members are spread across the state.


All COUGH Board-members are required to do the following:

  • Attend 3 in-person weekend Board meetings.  We typically host these meetings in Sacramento. We book and purchase all student travel, lodging, and food so the trip would be at not cost. Usually students fly/drive/train in on Friday evenings and the retreat starts Saturday morning. On Sunday we work for half a day and students begin departure around noon and are home on Sunday evening. Retreats are expected to be held during the months of August, October, and February.

  • Sign up for a year-long project of your choice in the areas of advocacy, education, or tobacco-treatment.

  • Attend project-team meetings by phone as needed (typically1 time per month)

  • Review 1-2 educational materials and provide your feedback through an online survey (typically takes 30-60 minutes).

  • Conduct outreach locally by (your choice):

    • Conducting presentations on campus or in your community, or

    • Hosting campus-based events, or

    • Meeting with decision-makers on your campus or at the state level.

    • Stay in regular communication with CYAN staff and the rest of the COUGH board (mostly via email)


  • Enrolled in a California college or university during the 2019-2020 school year

  • Willing to become active with tobacco prevention, treatment, or policy activities on their college campus or in their community

  • Able to serve a one-year term (July 2019 - June 2020)

Applications for COUGH Student Advisory Board members are currently open.

Applications are due April 26, 2019