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SMC seeks to end tobacco use on campus

| Wednesday, February 20, 2019

In pursuit of a better Saint Mary’s, two students — sophomore Addie Bobosky and junior Noel Keen — have become the face of the Truth Initiative grant on campus.

According to its website, the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit that encourages institutions of higher learning to cut back on student tobacco, “offers grants of up to $20,000 to women’s colleges, minority-serving academic institutions and community colleges to adopt a 100 percent tobacco-free college policy.” Last year, Saint Mary’s received this grant, which Bobosky and Keen hope will make the College a campus where all people feel safe and healthy, Keen said.

Colleen Fischer | The Observer

As part of the Truth Initiative, posters are placed around campus in order to spread awareness about the harms of tobacco products.

“One of the biggest parts of the sisterhood at Saint Mary’s is having respect for everyone here. More and more information has recently come out about the effects of secondhand smoke, and that impacts everybody on our campus,” Keen said in an email.

Bobosky said going tobacco-free will help create a better Saint Mary’s.

“By having the Saint Mary’s community go tobacco-free, we will be making a cleaner, healthier environment for the staff, students, faculty and visitors,” Bobosky said in an email.

According to the organization’s website, anti-tobacco policies are “especially important for minority-serving institutions and community colleges” because it is these communities, in particular, that are most often targeted by the tobacco industry.

“Tobacco companies have been specifically targeting women through their advertising for years,” said Keen. “Since Saint Mary’s is an all-women’s college, we are working to put a tobacco-free policy in place to improve our campus and the health of those who spend so much of their time here. The Truth Initiative has been very helpful in providing us with the resources that are specific to the all women’s aspect.”

Bobosky and Keen’s approach to reducing tobacco use on campus has mostly been educational, as both have been hanging up informational posters and hosting events across campus. The pair is currently drafting a new policy to bring to the College administration, Bobosky said.

“The grant team is currently in the stage of educating the community and drafting [a new] policy. Noel and I are trying to inform the Saint Mary’s community about the true facts of smoking and tobacco use,” Bobosky said.

“Our work with the Truth Initiative will make Saint Mary’s a tobacco-free campus,” Keen said. “By enforcing this policy, smoking will not be allowed anywhere on campus which will make our campus much healthier.”

Bobosky and Keen are trying to go beyond education by facilitating conversation about the pros and cons of making Saint Mary’s campus tobacco-free, the pair said.

“[Keen] and I are in the works of planning a forum where the community is encouraged to come to voice any opinions or concerns about Saint Mary’s College campus going tobacco-free,” Bobosky said. “Our goal is to have open communication with the community and make sure all concerns are addressed.”

In a previous interview with The Observer, Bobosky said the team aimed to make Saint Mary’s Tobacco free by the beginning of next school year. The goal has since been pushed back, but the two remain optimistic, Keen said.

“With the grant, Saint Mary’s will be tobacco free by May of 2020,” Keen said. “However, we have had incredibly great feedback from our campus.”

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