Committee works to make Auraria a smoke-free locale
Signs placed in campus ashtrays for the 33rd annual Great American Smokeout Nov. 19 encouraged smokers to make the cigarette they were putting out their last.
The Auraria Campus Smokeout was sponsored by the tri-institutional committee Clean Air Auraria.
This was Auraria’s second year of hosting the Smokeout, an event that provides resources to students who are trying to quit smoking.
Not only did the Smokeout serve as an avenue to give students resources to quit smoking, but it also gave Clean Air Auraria an opportunity to gather students’ opinions regarding the creation of a policy that would prohibit smoking anywhere on campus; an idea that is gaining momentum across the nation.
The Clean Air Auraria committee originated from the peer education group, the BACCHUS Network.
The committee was born from the idea that the three Auraria institutes working together could more effectively spend state grant money — money designated for tobacco cessation and policy change programs — that was given to each school’s BACCHUS chapter.
Julie Weissbuch, BACCHUS’ director of Colorado tobacco prevention and control initiatives, said, “There is a big movement for smoke free campuses.” She quoted the American Lung Association’s announcement that in October there were 176 campuses in the country with no-smoking policies.
Started in 1977 by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokeout aims to inspire smokers to reconsider their vice, a vice that claims more than 4,200 lives a year in Colorado, according to the 2004-2010 Colorado Tobacco Prevention and Control Strategic Plan.
The Smokeout finds its roots in Randolph, Mass. where in 1971 Arthur Mullaney, a guidance counselor at a high school, persuaded Randolph’s citizens to stop smoking for one day and to donate the money saved by doing so to a scholarship fund for his students.
In between a flurry of people entering the Tivoli Multicultural Lounge for the Smokeout and signing their names on a log sheet, Clean Air Auraria events coordinator Tamara Johnson relayed the logistics of the Smokeout.
“We’ve had at least 200 people come through … and basically it’s a resource fair to give students resources to quit,” Johnson said.
Students shuffled through the Multicultural Lounge, going from table to table, gathering resources to help them kick their habit.
The Metro and UCD counseling centers were both present with tables offering emotional support and tips for coping with the transition to a smoke-free life.
Other tables offered quit kits, information on nicotine replacement therapy and information about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
When asked what Clean Air Auraria is doing to make the campus smoke-free, Johnson said, “We’re not there yet. Right now we are seeing what the campus wants, so we’re surveying to gather information.”
Smoking a cigarette, student Dimitriy Datskevich voiced discontent about a smoke-free campus.
“Smoking should be allowed on campus,” Datskevich said.
He then questioned the degree to which people are affected by secondhand smoke when the smoking occurs outside.
Johnson said Clean Air Auraria will analyze data collected from their 2000 online surveys and 500 paper surveys next semester to decide if initiating a campus policy change is in order.
“We’re finding more people want a smoke-free campus than don’t,” Johnson said.