TRU students educate peers about tobacco use

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

Eight second-year respiratory therapy students at TRU are teaching others about the dangers of tobacco use.

The TRU Tobacco Education Strategies Clinic functions to educate patients about the immediate effects of tobacco use and provide them with support when they decide to quit using tobacco.

Adrienne Beley, a student working at the clinic, has first-hand experience with smoking. She was once a smoker and understands the hardships of dealing with quitting smoking.

“It’s easier to make an excuse than to just quit,” Beley said.

Beley said added that though youth are bombarded with information about the ill-effects of smoking, they are drawn to it by curiosity.

“It often becomes a long-term problem.

“The longer you go, the harder it becomes to quit.”

The clinic provides those who wish to quit smoking with a variety of tobacco cessation techniques.

Through counselling and motivational interviewing, the students teach clients about addiction and how to overcome the psychological, social and physical pressures tobacco places on users.

The B.C. government provides coverage for those with an active Medical Services Plan for 12 weeks of non-prescription nicotine replacement therapy products, such as nicotine gum or patches, or stop-smoking prescription drugs like bupropion and varenicline.

“There are chemicals in cigarettes that reduce hunger. We recommend that [smokers] replace smoking with healthy snacks. This way, they are satisfying the need for the hand-to-mouth action and being healthy,” said Stephanie Drysdale, one of the students working at the clinic.

On Monday, Oct. 22, 2012, 30 students participated in a ‘butt count.’ Between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. students collected cigarette butts around campus. Prior to the count, students asked campus custodians to avoid cleaning up after smokers on Monday morning, because custodial staff tries to clean up cigarette butts daily. Counters found 11,090 cigarette butts in one hour. That is an estimated cost of $4,990.

23.9 per cent of young adults in B.C. between the ages of 20 and 34, are considered smokers according to

According to Beley, tobacco is the only legal product in Canada that if used as directed, will kill half of those who use it.

The area in front of Old Main has become an unofficial gathering spot for on-campus smokers. TRU has painted lines around the building indicating where students are not allowed to smoke. This section is outside of the lines, so students are within their rights to smoke there. Because smokers are lighting-up so close to the building, it makes it difficult for those wanting to quit to do so. The temptation is always right there. On top of that, non-smokers are finding it difficult to pass through the area.

The University of British Columbia Okanagan built gazebos to accommodate its on-campus smokers, which allows non-smokers to avoid second-hand smoke. According to Drysdale, there has been talk of starting a petition to build something similar at TRU.

TRU is the only school in B.C. that provides a respiratory therapy program.

Respiratory therapists devote their time to studying and assisting patients with cardiopulmonary and associated illnesses and difficulties.

The Canadian Cancer society has declared Jan. 20 to 26 National Non-Smoking week. This is an annual event that encourages smokers to educate themselves about the negative effects of tobacco use and provide support to many.

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