UTM’s Health and Safety Board and Leave the Pack Behind jointly held an event on Wednesday January 19. The “Move Your Butt, Please” campaign, which is a current smoking initiative already implemented on campus, is part of National Non-Smoking Week.
Leave the Pack behind is “a tobacco control initiative that focusses on post-secondary students across Ontario. This program relies on a peer-based model that creates programming that specifically appeals to individuals in the age range of 18-24,” explained Sandrina Ntamwemezi, Leave the Pack Behind’s campus program coordinator.
According to their website, leavethepackbehind.org, Leave the Pack Behind “encourages occasional and regular smokers to quit, protects non-smokers from secondhand smoke, and supports students in ways that help prevent them from taking up tobacco use at all.”
Ntamwemezi explained that smokers were encouraged on January 19 to respect the space of non-smokers and smoke at least nine metres away from designated smoke-free areas on campus. Nine-metre markers were marked outside campus entrances.
“The entrances designated as non-smoking are important to maintain, because people who work, learn, and even visit this campus are entitled to be able to enter and exit buildings without being exposed to cigarette smoke,” said Ntamwemezi. “Not only is it hazardous to their health, it is also important to consider those who have respiratory conditions that can be aggravated by inhaling cigarette smoke.”
Volunteers were on hand to ask smokers to smoke at the nine-metre marks.
“There were some individuals who were reluctant to move, or who were not happy about moving. That is to be expected when it’s been as cold as it has lately,” continued Ntamwemezi. “Most people will move, even if it’s not to the full nine meters, but it does make a difference. It is not simply to bully smokers. There are many places on campus that individuals can smoke; it’s important to remind individuals that these designated non-smoking entrances are not for them.”
Designated non-smoking areas on campus include entrances at the North Building, the front and side entrances at the Davis Building, as well as all entrances in the CCT Building, the library, the Kaneff Building, the Student Centre, and the Oscar Peterson Hall and Erindale Hall entrances. However, this year’s event was held only at the Davis Building, North Building, CCT Building, and library entrances.
“The event was quite successful in that we managed to interact with a number of smokers as well as raise awareness among non-smokers to the ‘Move Your Butt, Please’ campaign,” said Ntamwemezi. “Many, including smokers themselves, have expressed that there is great value in having such a program in place on campus. Many non-smokers are glad to hear the initiative exists to protect their decision not to smoke, which sometimes gets lost in all the tobacco control messaging. So I would say that the event was definitely a success.”
Leave the Pack Behind’s upcoming events include their contest, called “wouldurather…”, which opens on January 24. The registration for it has already begun.
“Quit smoking, cut back on smoking, cut out smoking and drinking, or stay smoke-free for your chance to win a slew of great prizes!” states the website. There are four main prizes to be won from the Leave the Pack Behind main office.
Each prize is associated with one of the contest categories. The main category is called “Quit for Good”. It requires that smokers quit smoking for the duration of the contest. The winner will receive $1,000. The “Keep the Count” category, which requires smokers to reduce how much they smoke by 50%, has a cash prize of $500. The “Party Without the Smoke” category, which requires that smokers not drink and smoke at the same time, is also for social smokers looking to quit. The prize for this is $250. Finally, the last category, called “Don’t Start and Win”, is for non-smokers and ex-smokers who are looking to stay smoke-free. The prize is $100.
Leave the Pack Behind can be found at the UTM Health and Counselling Centre in room 1123 in the Davis Building or online at leavethepackbehind.org.