Thousands of dollars are being poured into the IU Health Center’s budget in an effort to promote a tobacco-free campus culture.
Just last month, the health center was chosen as one of 20 college and university health centers across the nation to partake in the American Cancer Society and the CVS Health Foundation’s Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative.
The health center has received a $20,000 grant as part of this program in order to extend and better the current tobacco-free policies set forth by the University.
The center hopes to achieve a 100-percent smoke- and tobacco-free campus, according to the health center’s blog.
IU’s anti-tobacco policies have been in place since 2008, assistant director of disease prevention Cathy Wyatt said. In 2012, this policy was revamped to include electronic cigarettes.
“Our policy basically says all the things we want it to say but we don’t have any policing,” Wyatt said. “There’s really no way to manage that and navigate a process, but the policy says that on campus, staff, students and faculty can smoke in their cars. Then they allotted for designated areas on campus.”
Despite the assignment of cigarette-designated areas, it’s a continuous struggle to keep students, in particular, within these areas, as many stray outside of them to other parts of campus.
“Ballantine has been a really tough area,” health center marketing director Mandy Hussey said.
The health center currently has a peer educator program to facilitate the dispersion of information and resources to the student population.
Hussey said the peer educators are trained in bystander prevention.
These educators are generally located at the Union at the literature desk and their job is to talk, in a non-confrontational way, to passing students about sexual health and how to be tobacco-free.
Both Wyatt and Hussey agreed using students to educate fellow students on health comes across less critically and authoritatively than if they relied solely on faculty.
“I love getting feedback from students and what they think would work better because it’s not about being outside of the box, it’s about being immersed in that generation and when you’re outside of it, it’s hard,” Wyatt said. “That’s why we use the peer educators.”
However, the two still said they think there’s more to achieve here at IU.
The recent grant will be used towards two areas in particular.
Primarily, it will employ one person dedicated entirely to the program’s efforts, including new activities and the timeline for events.
The initiative will spread to other colleges and universities during a three-year span, according to the blog.
Marketing is also another key area for remaining funds. The slogan, “Clear the Air: Refresh IU,” is the face of the new program efforts.
T-shirts and water bottles already sport the catchphrase “Kiss Me, I’m Tobacco-Free.” The health center has also created “Quit Kits” for students who are starting their tobacco-free journey.
The kits include anything from nicotine gum, to stress balls to straws to help with the hand-to-mouth habit.
These kits are usually available through outreach programs, but fliers and additional information can always be found in the IU Health Center or Indiana Memorial Union.
Wyatt and Hussey said they are excited to begin their work on the new initiative with CVS and their campus initiative.
“I’m thrilled CVS has taken the approach it’s taken and the partnership with the American Cancer Society,” Wyatt said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
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