A "Life Happens" workshop entitled, “Tobacco: The Unfiltered Truth” was held in St. Scholastica’s Burns Wellness Center on Feb. 2 to educate and raise awareness on campus of the dangers of tobacco.
This event, sponsored by the American Lung Association (ALA), was held during the college’s campaign efforts to ban tobacco on campus.
“We hope the workshop shows people the benefits of a tobacco free campus,” Kristy Seaver, program manager at ALA, said. “We’re not saying that it’s easy to quit tobacco, or that you have to, but it’s obviously a big encouragement for those who do use."
The title of the workshop is based on the documentary that was shown called “Tobacco: The Unfiltered Truth.” The Minnesota-made documentary highlights two tobacco users and two successful quitters. Each subject, including one college student, shared their story to tell how tobacco has affected their lives, and the dangers that come with using tobacco.
After the video was finished, a panel of four speakers took over to discuss some issues revolving around tobacco. The panel included Bridget Benson, QUITPLAN counselor, Mike McAvoy, VP of operations at Essentia, Roxanne Frederick, Lake Superior College health services coordinator and Joan Rich, assistant professor at CSS.
Benson started by encouraging students to use QUITPLAN, or at least contact QUITPLAN for help if they are having trouble quitting tobacco use. Benson also had cessation devices for attendees to take for themselves or a friend.
McAvoy informed the audience of the transformations being done in the workplace involving tobacco use. McAvoy said that 60% of all businesses now have tobacco free workplaces along with 21 states that won’t even hire smokers.
McAvoy also emphasized the importance of having a tobacco free campus to prepare students for tobacco free workplaces.
“Employers are going on a journey, one that would have been unheard of 30 years ago,” McAvoy said. “Students are about to enter a workplace that is following a trend, and that trend is companies that are going tobacco free.”
Frederick was part of the panel to let students know of the successful tobacco free campaign at Lake Superior College. LSC has recently become tobacco free, and are one of the few colleges in the United States that actually have a fine for tobacco use on campus. Other campuses just have peer enforcement.
Joan Rich is an assistant professor in the nursing department at CSS and is involved in the current campaign for a tobacco free campus.
According to Rich, there was a push in 2007 for a tobacco free campus by a group of senior public health students. The campaign was supported by students, with 85 percent of students saying they liked the idea. The campaign was passed by student senate, but once it got to the president’s staff, it “kind of just went away,” according to Rich.
“Well we are trying again, we need to get through this gate,” Rich said. “We have a lot of support again, even by tobacco users, things are looking good.”
Currently there are 396 tobacco and smoke-free campuses in the United States, with 20 tobacco free and three smoke-free campuses in Minnesota.
According to the American Lung Association, the benefits of a tobacco free campus include: good health promotion, encouragement of tobacco free lifestyles, prevention of students ever starting, a decrease of cigarette butt and litter waste, and much more.
The panel members all encouraged students to sign the petition for a tobacco free campus and be advocates for the campaign. Rich said the one of the best and easiest ways to have a tobacco free campus is to offer many alternatives.
“The wellness center is a great alternative,” Rich said. “Hopefully the new science atrium will give us yet another social hot spot and help us on Scholastica’s drive to be tobacco free.”