Wellness Centre and respiratory therapy department receive provincial recognition

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

The Wellness Centre and the respiratory therapy department received an award Jan. 18 for their efforts towards tobacco reduction and smoking cessation. - Photo by Courtney Dickson

Photo, front row, left to right: Stephanie Drysdale, Chelsea Corsi (TRU Wellness coordinator), MaryAnne Waters (Interior Health Authority), Janine Chan (respiratory therapy faculty) and Laura Reid. 
Back row, left to right: Josh Tubajon, Sean McAllister and Andrew Dieroft. – Photo courtesy Thompson Rivers University

TRU was the only post-secondary institution to receive the B.C. Champions for Tobacco-Free Living Award, presented Jan. 18. The B.C. Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke foundation recognized the TRU Wellness Centre and respiratory therapy program for their commitment to tobacco reduction on campus.
This is the first time the Champions for Tobacco-Free Living Award has been presented.

“We are often so focused on doing work that we don’t stand back and reflect on people doing good work,” said Jack Boomer, director of the Clean Air Coalition of B.C.

“The leading cause of preventable death in B.C. is tobacco-related illness,” said Scott McDonald, CEO of the B.C. Lung Association. “Thanks to champions like these we continue to make progress on this important issue.”
According to a press release from Jan. 18, B.C. “has some of the strongest tobacco-control legislation in Canada and the lowest smoking rate (14 per cent) of any province or territory.”
Janine Chan of the respiratory therapy program and Chelsea Corsi, wellness coordinator on campus, credit each other for their hard work and passion.

“It just so happens that we have an extraordinary wellness department that we’ve collaborated with,” Chan said. “It’s very natural for us to want to be focused on tobacco.”

Boomer considers TRU one of the “unsung heroes” of tobacco cessation and reduction.

“They have always been extremely creative and innovative,” he said.

The Wellness Centre and respiratory therapy program have been receiving grants to assist them with educating staff and students about tobacco and supporting tobacco cessation.

In 2008 they received $15,000 from the Tobacco-Free Post-Secondary Initiative from the B.C. Healthy Living Alliance.

In 2011 the team received the CAN-ADAPTT (Canadian Action Network for the Advancement Dissemination and Adoption of Practice Informed Tobacco Treatment) grant for $5,000, which Chan said “really set the stage for us because then we didn’t have to worry about funding.”

Finally, this year, they received more than $2,800 from TRU’s Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund. This money has been used partly to develop a questionnaire that is being circulated through various groups on campus, asking about their tobacco use and beliefs.

“Knowing what we each had to offer and bring to the table and the infusion of the money,” Chan added, “we committed ourselves to grow certain parts of this initiative on campus.”

Currently, Chan and Corsi are promoting QuitNow’s Tobacco-Free Tuesdays. The idea is that if someone can successfully end tobacco use for 24 hours, it gives him or her the self-efficacy that he or she can do it for longer. For someone who has used tobacco for 10 or more years, a lifetime without tobacco may be hard to imagine. One day without tobacco may seem more attainable.

Next on the list for the Wellness Centre and respiratory therapy program is to start educating TRU’s international students about tobacco use.

“Our intent really is to get into every ESL class,” Chan said. “We really want to make the Canadian experience for these students a healthy one.”

“Tobacco is the only product that, when used as directed, will kill 50 per cent of users,” Boomer said.

“Tobacco use is a chronic disease, not a bad habit,” Corsi said.

TRU offers the only respiratory therapy training in the province.

Updated Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:32 p.m. by copy/web editor.