SAIT’s academic chair of the wellness programs, Patricia Reader-Downey, says that her goal for this program is to have students support each other, and to have a healthier student population.
“Students register and are then signed up with someone who is in the dental, respiratory therapy, or nutrition for healthy lifestyle program to assist them with quitting smoking,” Reader-Downey said in an interview.
A student who has been trained in any of those programs is paired up with someone who has smoked for a couple of months, and helps them cope with quitting, what triggers their need to smoke, and how to not resort to smoking when cravings are triggered.
When a smoker is paired up with one of these students, they have to work together to determine if it’s the best time for them to quit and the best method of intervention.
“We like to see students get out from under the thumb of tobacco companies. However the best time for them to quit is when they’re ready,” said Reader-Downey.
Reader-Downey explained that while this is the first time she has run this program with SAIT, she has done it in the past with the health region, so she knows it’s something that has the power to be successful.
To make students more aware of this program, Reader-Downey said the marketing department at SAIT is getting the word out to students. They are also sending out emails and contacting those who signed up at the health fair.
“Security will be handing out lollipops with the phone number of the smoking cessation program,” said Reader-Downey.
“Students can contact this number any time.”
While this program will be offered during the summer, Reader-Downey predicts that the number of people enrolled will drop significantly once the end of the winter term arrives.
According to the provincial government, from 2012 until 2022, the plan is to ban the sale of flavoured tobacco, forbids the sale of tobacco to minors, increase the tobacco tax, further restrict smoking in public areas, and increase the availability of tobacco cessation resources.
Their goal is to basically create a tobacco free future.
We like to see students get out from the under thumb of tobacco companies, however the best time for them to quit is when they’re ready. – Patricia Reader-Downey.
Brody Gandzalas, a 19-year-old student who has been smoking since he was 14, said that his main triggers for lighting up are stress and anxiety.
“I started smoking when I was young because I used to hang out with a ‘bad’ group of friends, and I wanted to be cool,” said Gandzalas.
Gandzalas also believes that work, school, and traumatic situations can cause stress, which may end up leading to smoking.
“I think that SAIT’s new program is a great idea for those who are really ready to quit,” Gandzalas said.
“I don’t think the program would be very effective for someone who tries quitting, but wasn’t really ready.”