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College receives grant to make campus tobacco-free

| Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Truth Initiative Campaign awarded Saint Mary’s College a grant to make campus tobacco-free. Junior Noel Keen and sophomore Addie Bobosky are the College’s student leaders to organize events to inspire a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Vice president of student affairs Karen Johnson said in an email that the College was approached by the Truth Initiative to apply for the grant.

“The organization has been focusing on minority-serving institutions and women’s colleges because these are the groups that are most targeted by the tobacco industry,” Johnson said.

The Truth Initiative is funded by the settlement with big tobacco companies that hope to speak to youth and provide information about the effects of smoking, Keen said in an email.

“Through research and community engagement, the campaign uses tactical events to encourage participation in tobacco-free lives,” she said. “The campaign primarily seeks out minority colleges, such as all women’s colleges, to help create tobacco-free campuses through their grant program.”

Keen and Bobosky said in an email that their goals include eliminating tobacco and e-cigarettes from Saint Mary’s and to enlist 15 percent of the student population through a text-in system.

Through the grant, we will be hosting several events on campus that will promote a tobacco-free environment,” Keen said. “We will be hosting two events before the end of the semester that will introduce our exciting ‘Saint Mary’s Lives Tobacco Free’ campaign. We hope to strongly inform our peers about the true facts of tobacco, and encourage our campus to live healthier lives.”

The pair traveled to Washington D.C. in early November to participate in the Truth Initiative’s New Grantee Conference, Bobosky said, where they learned how to lead the community toward their goal.

“At this conference, we sat through several seminars and workshops focusing on leadership development, true facts about tobacco, community organizing and crucial messaging tactics,” she said. “We met with many different schools from across the country and were able to collaborate with a wide array of backgrounds. The Truth Initiative staff was incredibly welcoming and motivating in their efforts to teach us about the message and how to best implement it on our campus at Saint Mary’s.”

The grant allows the leaders two years to engage the community with sponsored events to spread awareness of the dangers of smoking.

“Our goal is to make Saint Mary’s College a tobacco-free campus by August 2019,” Bobosky said. “We will include everybody in the community and are looking to get more people involved. Noel and I want to encourage as much participation as possible from students of all backgrounds.”

Keen said she hopes to provide the Saint Mary’s community with information to encourage an end to smoking.

“By having a tobacco-free campus, the Saint Mary’s community will live healthier lives,” she said. “Forty-one-thousand non-smoking adults are killed by exposure to secondhand smoke every year. Tobacco products kill 1,300 smokers every day. We want to educate our community about the facts and encourage our campus to take the next step in decreasing these statistics.”

Bobosky said the pair is working on creating a video and urges community members to reach out if possible.

“We are currently seeking individuals who have been affected by smoking, whether it be personally or in general, to participate in a video project,” Bobosky said. “Please contact Noel or I … to get involved. In addition, cessation assistance will be provided for those who do smoke.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

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