The Temple Health Empowerment Organization has just launched the College Tobacco Pilot Project, a program that aims to lower the number of smokers on campus.
THEO’s new program is funded by the Philadelphia Health Department. Its goal is to reform smoking statistics at all colleges in the area. The anti-smoking project is only currently an experiment. However, if it produces substantial results, the Health Department will expand it to multiple surrounding schools.
“This program is more than just an anti-smoking campaign,” said Brille Kenner, a student worker for THEO and co-creator of the project. “It is to persuade students to quit smoking as well as prevent them from starting, at least before they graduate.”
The College Tobacco Pilot Project has three focuses: prevention, cessation, and policy, each of which has a student advocate assigned to it.
Prevention focuses on averting specifically freshmen and sophomores from taking up smoking. The reason for the focus on first and second year students is that 11 percent of all college students that smoke began smoking during those years. Kenner, who is the advocate for this focus, plans to use counter-marketing to display, through the use of posters and other media, how tobacco companies deceive their customers.
Cessation’s primary objective is to persuade students to stop smoking who already are in the habit. This section is run by Megan Davies. THEO has compiled smoking “quit kits” that contain a variety of products used to help people quit, such as nicotine patches and gum. These kits can be found at THEO’s headquarters in the basement of Mitten Hall.
The policy sector’s focus is built for making the smoking policies at Temple known and understood by all members of the campus. The university’s current policy is that no student or faculty member may smoke within 25 feet of the entrance to any campus building. This section, headed by Shawnisha Thomas, also examines Temple’s policies to discover which ones are effective and which ones are not. The Tobacco Task Force, comprised of smoking and non-smoking students and faculty, examine these and work to propose policies that could be more efficient for the university community.
Based on THEO’s statistics, 74 percent of Temple students choose not to smoke.
“Our goal is to increase that percentage,” said Kenner. “If we could even see minor improvements with this project, it will all be worth it.”
Tobacco Pilot Project, which is supervised by Michael McNeil, the office director of THEO, began funding in June of this year and will continue through May 2005. Then its results will be reviewed by the city and if its progress is found to be substantial, it will be expanded to many other schools in the area.
THEO has coined this year’s campaign name as “Do You!”
“It’s a slang term to encourage students to ‘do what it is they do’ – what makes them happy,” said Kenner.
The organization also plans to host many programs and activities on The Great American Smoke-Out, a national event that will take place on November 18.
THEO, the organization most famously known on campus for selling 10 condoms for $1, originally began dealing with just sex-health issues. It currently is concerned with mental health and diet issues as well.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.