Tobacco free grant will end in summer

Jacob Waring – Reporter

The grant, Southern Goes Tobacco-Free: A State and Community Intervention, will cease by the end of June.

The grant, which started in the spring of 2017, was supposed to end this fall.

However, the Wellness Center and partnered schools were able to extend the grant for another semester according to Victoria Adams, tobacco program coordinator.

The grant, according to Adams, helps students kick their habit with tobacco-based products, educates students on the harmful effects and brings awareness about vape or JUUL products.

She also said the grant allows the Wellness Center to have Tobacco Free Ambassadors which is led by student peer educators who host events, and educates students.

Bianca Flowers, a graduate intern, said said she feels mixed emotions that the grant is ending, but is proud of what they accomplished and how they have helped students.

“I feel sad, but at the same time for the time we had the grant, that we’ve been doing great,” said Flowers. “I feel we did do what we’ve said we’re gonna do. I feel like the culture on campus is significantly different than other campuses…”

Adams said they knew from the beginning the grant would only last two years.

Adams is also trained as a tobacco treatment specialist. Once the grant ends Adams will no longer be employed at Southern, but the other specialist, Diane Morgenthaler, director of Student Health Services, will be able to provide the same services regardless of the grant’s existence.

One aspect that will be ceasing in its entirety is the incentives that helps students quit smoking such as encouraging them to turn in their tobacco product and devices.

“We’re just going to run out of the financial incentives,” she said. “Right now they can get gift cards when they go to Health Services to quit, so that will no longer be available.”

Outreach from tobacco free ambassadors will no longer be available too.

She said the Wellness Center will continue to provide outreach and support, but they will not be as intense because they have other priorities.

Adams said the grant provided opportunities for the betterment of Southern and allowed students access to services not readily available elsewhere.

“It was such a huge gain to get this grant, I think that it was such a privilege to receive the grant since so many other schools just don’t even have the resources we’re able to offer our students,” said Adams.

Ultimately, Flowers said, the culture the grant cultivated will continue to do good.

“In my opinion, the grant helps of course but I think that the work is done,” said Flowers. “What I mean by that is that we’re a tobacco free campus, that’s just a policy that’s made on campus, outside of the grant. When new students come on the campus, they’re made aware that it’s not allowed here [smoking], they’re less likely to do it.”

Yet some students felt the grant ending is an unfortunate event to occur. Crystal Zurolo, a senior, public health major, wished the grant was on a more permanent basis.

“I think undergrad especially, they play around with JUUL and stuff a lot more too,” Zurolo said. “I think it would benefit to have [the grant] be more permanent.”

Photo Credit: Jacob Waring

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