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.


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.

Get Involved

How can students get involved with COUGH?

There are two levels of involvement with COUGH (1) Student Advisory Board Member and (2) Student Advocate. Students involved at either level have opportunities to participate in local and/or statewide college tobacco-free initiatives.

1.COUGH Student Advisory Board

The COUGH Student Advisory Board is made of approximately 10 undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent college graduates interested in working closely with CYAN staff to provide direction for statewide college tobacco-free efforts. COUGH Advisory Board members serve one-year terms from July 1 to June 30.

Applications for COUGH Student Advisory Board members are currently open. Applications are due June 17, 2017. 

Apply online here

2. COUGH Student Advocates

Students currently working on a tobacco-related issue on a California college or university are encouraged to get involved in the statewide movement. Individuals involved with COUGH will get connected with other students throughout the state who are advocating for tobacco-free policy change, educating their campus communities on tobacco issues, and/or providing cessation services and quit resources to their peers. COUGH Student Advocates will also get updates on statewide advocacy opportunities, trainings, and activities.

Join the coalition on Facebook