Building a Campus Task Force

Simply put, a task force is a group of individuals with a common interest and desire to work with others toward common goals.

The focus of your Campus Tobacco Task Force can be very specific (create tobacco-free residence halls or introduce cessation services at the campus counseling center) or broad (establish a tobacco-free campus). The size and makeup of your Task Force will be dependent on the passions, interests, and availability of the stakeholders.

Creating Your Task Force
A campus can identify its stakeholders with the Partners in Tobacco Prevention Identificationguide and then invite them to the first Campus Tobacco Task Force meeting. Remember to include students, staff, faculty, and community members! The Task Force is more likely to be respected, successful and listened to if others can identify with its members.

An effective Task Force will have participants who are viewed as credible sources and spokespeople on the campus as well as those who can make policy decisions, such as the chief student affairs officer. By involving key individuals, the accomplishment of objectives and creation of change will come easier.

Goals of the Task Force
Regardless of its size and structure, the Task Force exists to create and support efforts to develop a tobacco-free campus.

As a group, the Task Force can identify and define their goals with the help of the Environmental Scan. Once completed, the results of the Scan will help the Task Force focus its attention on campus needs, such as policies, enforcement, or services.

It also can be helpful to develop a mission statement or guiding principle that states the intent and purpose of the group. This statement can be expanded as the Task Force sets its goals.

Sample Mission Statement
The University’s Campus Tobacco Task Force exists to create a healthier campus environment in the area of tobacco control in the following ways:

  • Establishing and supporting policies for a smoke-free and tobacco-free learning environment;
  • Developing strategies for enforcing policies that support the educational mission of the University;
  • Creating relationships with community establishments to offer more smoke-free places for students to socialize (restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, etc.); 
  • Identifying SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time bound) objectives for each goal; and 
  • Maintaining diverse involvement in the Campus Tobacco Task Force and ensuring representation by students, staff, faculty and community.

This statement accomplishes the following:

  • Sets an overarching philosophy to guide the group
  • Sets four broad goals for the group to achieve
  • Identifies the group’s commitment to involving all stakeholders in the process
  • Informs the group when their work is completed

Each goal can then be broken down into objectives; these objectives will provide the steps the group, or subcommittee, needs to take to achieve its goals. One way to develop objectives is to use the SMART model (Meyer, P. J. “Attitude Is Everything).”

These objectives may include tasks the Task Force undertakes, such as devising enforcement guidelines for policies, or may be items the Task Force is informed about and supports but are completed by the peer educators, such as implementing the social norms campaign.

The Campus Tobacco Task Force is designed to help participants accomplish the goals of their department with regard to tobacco control. It requires good leadership, facilitation, efficiency and commitment. The broader the basis of support for creating a healthy and tobacco-free campus, the easier it will be to work toward and accomplish the Task Force’s goals.

More information on task force building and the policy change process can be found in these two past tobacco campaign mailings:

  • Momentum: Creating and Tobacco-Free Campus (2008)
  • Tobacco-Free Generation: Energy to Make Your Campus Tobacco Free (2009)