NIRA - stop accepting scholarship money from U.S. Smokeless Tobacco..

October 30, 2009 - National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) is the governing body for college rodeo competition in the United States. Collegiate competitors that perform well in the finals may be recipients of a certain amount of scholarship money depending upon how well they compete.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco had been contributing $200,000 per year to the NIRA until the business was purchased by the tobacco corporation Altria last year, according to NIRA officials. Altria owns brand names such as Marlboro, Copenhagen and Skoal. The rodeo association now is in negotiations with Altria about continued funding of the scholarship program, NIRA spokeswoman Sarah Neely said.

The association of this deadly substance with a positive athletic event such as the rodeo is inappropriate.

A San Luis Obispo doctor, Stephen L. Hansen, a physician and representative of the county Tobacco Control Coalition, continues to speak out against Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University) for allowing students to accept scholarships from the smokeless tobacco industry as prize awards in collegiate rodeo events.

The League Against Spit Sponsorship at Our rodeo (LASSO) is a project committed to assisting the Cal Poly Rodeo in replacing the scholarship money awarded by US Smokeless Tobacco with money from a more positive source.

Cal Poly officials said that it’s not the university’s place to tell students how they might consider scholarship money, regardless of the company behind it.

South Dakota State University has denied funding from the tobacco industry and set up a replacement fund, but it’s the only university rodeo team that has done so, said Kim Homer Vagadori, a tobacco prevention coordinator for the California Youth Advocacy Network.

Reference: Doctor presses the case against tobacco scholarships Money is given as collegiate rodeo prizes; practice lures students to dangerous product, he says by
Nick Wilson (, - The Tribune, 10/27/2009.