Students and the Health and Wellness Crew (HAWC) are exploring more inclusive ways to battle smoking on the Seattle University campus with the creation of a Tobacco Mentorship Program. Almost a year after Seattle U was declared smoke-free, two students are embracing a holistic approach to quitting tobacco by focusing on the benefits it holds for the whole person.
Sophomore biology major Mark Bredall first thought of the idea to start a mentorship program after he used the Student Health Center to quit smoking a few months ago. With the help of the HAWC, he recognized that there was a community supporting him that wasn’t there in the past when he had tried to quit.
“I want to be able to give back and make that community here for people who would also need it,” Bredall said.
The mentorship program is still in the early stages of development and is currently reaching out to students who may be interested in quitting tobacco or who have started the process of quitting. So far, there are only two mentors signed up, but the founders of the program hope to have five mentors by the end of the month. People involved with the program don’t expect it to be implemented until fall quarter.
Bredall and junior strategic communications major Jane Hunter, a member of HAWC who helped start the program, are using a holistic approach to reach their goals.
“We really want to concentrate on how quitting tobacco can not only help your physical wellness, but also your mental health,” Hunter said.
A primary goal of the program is inclusivity. After the smoking ban was implemented last year, smokers can only use tobacco products off-campus. This policy sparked a sizable negative response around campus soon after it was implemented and a lot of those criticisms still exist today. Bredall and Hunter hope to alleviate any existing barriers between the smokers and non-smokers on campus with their judgment-free mentorship program.
“For those who are wanting to quit I feel that it can be a very daunting task to do, especially alone, so we really want to just show that we’re supporting them through any decision they want to do,” Hunter said.
With this new method, many students will be asking if this could be a safer and more effective way to combat tobacco-use on campus instead of pushing tobacco users away. Through mentoring in the program, there would be efforts to create a community of smokers and non-smokers together so that those who are trying to quit tobacco do not feel isolated.
Along with inclusivity, Bredall and Hunter also want to stress that the program will be available for students to use at any stage in their connection to tobacco—whether they are just thinking about quitting, wanting to quit cold turkey, or are struggling with staying away from smoking.
“You want to improve yourself and we’re a support system here for you, [we’re not] going to improve you,” Hunter said.
Another aspect to the evolving program is that mentors do not necessarily need to have experience with tobacco. This lack of background with smoking could lead to a perception of lacking qualification to some, but to others it is not considered a crucial quality.
Jarrod Gallagher, a junior journalism major, recently quit smoking with the help of the Health Center, where he visited with a nurse every few weeks and picked up his free nicotine patches. One of the bigger problems Gallagher had while quitting was that all his roommates still smoked, which meant that he was alone in the process.
“The process of [quitting smoking] was very aggravating, it has its highs and lows and having somebody who was on the same page, at least sympathetic to the frustrations that you’re having, is phenomenal,” Gallagher said. “It wouldn’t even have to be somebody who was a previous smoker in my opinion.”
As the founders of the Tobacco Mentorship Program work out the kinks of the early stages of organization, they are also opening the door to the possibility of alternatives to our current tobacco policy.
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