This week marks National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, and the students and staff at UTM are making sure the University is up to tobacco-awareness speed. Much of the activity will center on January 20, dubbed Weedless Wednesday by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control.
Unlike the name of the event, there is nothing misleading about what the UTM health promoters have in store this week. The Move Your Butt campaign, a collaborative initiative between the UTM faculty and staff, the HSC, Student Housing and Residence Life, Peer Health Educators and Leave The Pack Behind, will focus on encouraging smokers to observe the nine meter smoke-free perimeter around designated smoke-free entrances.
Observing this rule is important because many designated smoke-free entrances are also accessible entrances. When smokers fail to comply, persons with accessibility needs are forced to expose themselves to secondhand smoke and its harms to get where they need to be. Similar problems apply to asthmatics and persons with tobacco allergies.
During the campaign, the nine meter perimeter will be clearly marked with chalk or flags outside main entrances on campus like the Library and South Building. Chad Jankowski, the Health Education Coordinator, declared that last years Move Your Butt event a success and noted that most smokers happily complied when asked to respect the boundaries. With last years success and the hope for this NNSW 2010, the event will become an annual occurrence.
Just to be clear, said Jankowski, National Non-Smoking Week isnt about pushing people to quit. Of course, if you are interested in quitting, this is an excellent opportunity to get the resources and support you need to reach your goal. There are four main messages we want to get across to students this week: prevention, reduction, protection and cessation. Theres something for everyone at every stage of tobacco use.
To drive these goals home, Leave the Pack Behind will be holding a contest with great prizes for categories corresponding to the four areas of focus. The contest will run for five or six weeks.
In the prevention category, non-smokers are challenged to not begin smoking during the period of the contest. In the reduction group, the challenge is to reduce ones tobacco use. Social smokers are encouraged to separate their alcohol and tobacco habits for the duration of the contest. The cessation group, which will boast the highest reward, is aimed at smokers hoping to quit for good. Participants will enroll with a buddy wholl help support them in their path to cessation.
Check out the Leave the Pack Behind website for more information on the contest and enrollment. And be sure to look out for the PHE, LTPB and RLS around campus on Weedless Wednesday, getting people to move their butts.