Plan to quit: students exchange tobacco products

Jacob WaringReporter

As part of Social Justice Month, the wellness center collected students’ tobacco products in exchange for flash drives and gift cards.

“We’ve done about now, at least five or six tobacco exchange programs in about two years, one or two every semester,” said Victoria Adams, tobacco program coordinator.

The service, she said, is funded by a grant provided by the Department of Public Health and Tobacco and Health Trust Fund. Students could trade in such items as vaporizers, pipes, cigarettes cigars and more. Most of what was collected on Nov. 5 was cigars, which she said were disposed of.

The wellness center has saved a few items from previous drives, said Adams, for educational purposes.

Last week’s event had a turnout of only 13 students, but Adams said they typically see up to 50 students per exchange.

Adams said a vital piece of information the wellness center shares with students at exchanges is: cigarettes are deadly, and one of the most toxic things you can put into your body.

She said most people do not understand the inherent dangers of not just smoking, but vaping.

“Vaping most likely is less of a harm to your body, however it still causes harm,” said Adams. “Vaping still has carcinogens.”

Adams said she does not know exactly how vaping stacks up to smoking, “but we do know that every time someone puts a vape pen in their mouth, inhaling the e-juice, they are hurting their body.”

Adams said the wellness center cites sources including the Center for Disease Control.

The exchanges are an educational outreach about the harmful effects of such products, Adams said.

Gift cards were an incentive to help motivate people to kick the habit, said Adams. She said anyone can go into the wellness center to exchange their items. Students do not necessarily have to wait for an exchange booth to be set up. Adams said that students can set up an appointment or just walk into the wellness center, and they can speak with someone about a plan to quit.

“They’ll give them tips on how to quit,” said Adams. “Through this grant, we have free nicotine replacement therapy.”

She said they also give students nicotine gum, or nicotine patches as part of a plan.

Adams said they do not like to push any kind of negative information onto people. When they come to quit, she said, they focus on the positives. It is a judgment free zone, she said.

“We do not judge anyone who comes to the booth,” said Adams. “We understand that it’s an addiction and that they’re most likely addicted to nicotine. We treat it as, ‘we’re excited that they’re here… excited that they’re taking that first step towards making themselves healthier.’”

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring

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