As the legislation that aimed to ban tobacco on New York State campuses by Jan. 1, 2014 was put on hold, the $1.50 increase fee per semester for the Student Health Services will still cover nicotine cessation products, counseling and workshops for student smokers in addition to other programs, according to Program Evaluator for the Center for Prevention and Outreach Ahmed Belazi.
“As a public health person, I would say that I’m always interested in being creative about the tools that I have available to me [for solving public health issues],” Belazi said. “And while policy and enforcement are an important set of tools, they’re not necessarily the most powerful in and of themselves.”
For Belazi, campus culture is most useful in addressing public health issues. These include supporting students who want to quit smoking or are in the process of doing so and letting non-smokers know that Stony Brook University has community expectations concerning tobacco use.
One way the university is providing support is by offering free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products for students who are trying to quit smoking. Health Educator and Peer Education Program Coordinator Kathleen Valerio from Student Health Services said NRT products include gum, lozenges and patches.
A two-part workshop series open to smokers and non-smokers will be held from Oct. 10 to Oct. 17. Its goal is to provide “information about the health/environmental impact of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use with links to resources that are both on and off campus,” Valerio said.
Valerio trained in the Suffolk County Department of Health’s “Learn to be…Tobacco Free” program, which included techniques and guidelines from the “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence” United Staes Department of Health and Human Services program. This content is shared during the BASICs workshop.
Campus Residences will also circulate flyers in efforts to cease tobacco use on campus.
Belazi said these efforts are being made because the university does not “necessarily want to wait for the ban” before implementing the same changes.