This week, I had the opportunity to speak to Danielle Cadhit, 4th year Art History and International Relations student, and the Campus Program Coordinator for the UofT St. George chapter of Leave The Pack Behind (LTPB). I learned a lot of interesting information that I would like to share with you.
- Source: UofT LTPB Facebook page
Vivian: What is LTPB and what type of activities do you engage in on campus?
Danielle: Leave the Pack Behind is a provincially government-sponsored peer-to-peer program that was introduced in 2000 to help provide support and education to students about tobacco. The key here is that the messaging is all positive – we aren’t an anti-smoking group; we are here to support, educate, and engage students about health. We facilitate various campaigns throughout the year which involve hosting displays, and walkabouts around campus to promote resources available to students. We use a lot of social media and social marketing in our communication campaigns that appeal to students in a fun way. LTPB is also available on several college and university campuses throughout Ontario and even has a program in Croatia.
V: Do you find that the needs of students are different from the general population?
D: This is a great question! This program was created with students in mind and that is why it is a peer-to-peer program. We are all students ourselves and enjoy engaging with other students and providing support. We meet students where they are at. As I said before, we aren’t an anti-smoking group. If students are smokers and aren’t ready to quit smoking, we support them and if they are ready to quit smoking, we support them. Our programs are designed even for those who don’t smoke; if someone is looking to help a friend or family member quit, we have a number of resources that may be helpful. I think the fact that social smoking is so prevalent in our age group and with the peer pressure involved, there are different needs for students that are specifically addressed in our campaigns throughout the year. For example, in early Fall around Frosh week we went to the clubs fair and Varsity games and even held a “Smoke Free Day” pub night to spread awareness of social smoking and how smoking can easily escalate to a daily habit due to stress and peer pressure. Some students do not identify themselves as smokers because they say they “only smoke when they drink”, but they do run the risk of escalating the habit once they start. So, we are here to educate and support those students who may be smoking as a result of the stresses of school and university life.
V: Do you have any recommendations in terms of resources, both on and off-campus, for students looking to quit/supporters of smokers trying to quit?
D: One of the best things about this program is the resources that have been made available through LTPB. First and foremost, students are able to get FREE Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) from the health clinic on campus (either the gum or patch). This is a great resource for students that are seriously looking to quit – especially since it is often very expensive. Our team is also here to give support to students who need help with quitting – we are always open to chatting and hearing your stories! We email back and forth with some students who need our support and have many different resources for those looking to quit.
V: What events/programming can we look forward to from LTPB in the future?
D: LTPB is always enhancing its programming from year to year. This year we did monthly prize draws for students who signed up with our rewards list and newsletter – for example, in September and January we did a U of T Bookstore gift card prize draw for $50. For the rest of the school year we are working on a campaign called “Stress Happens” and focusing on helping students throughout this stressful time. You’ll see us around campus with stress balls and other fun giveaways – especially at the Exam Jam and other related events in April! We have just finished one of our biggest events of the year–the annual contest called “wouldurather” where participants looking to quit can win up to $1000 as the provincial grand prize. This contest normally rolls around in January and is a really great opportunity for students to kick the habit especially around New Year’s resolution-making time. Best part is anyone can join especially since we have categories for daily smokers, social smokers, and non-smokers as well.
V: How can students get involved with LTPB if they’re interested?
D: In the next month, LTPB will be hiring part-time student staff for the upcoming 2013-14 team. We will be recruiting a Campus Program Coordinator and Communication Team members Interested students can look for a posting on the U of T career website soon, and we will also be sending out information through our Facebook page. We also hire volunteers to help out with a few events throughout the year and post those positions as needed.
Do you have any questions or concerns for LTPB? Feel free to contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website at ltpb.org.