What Our Friends at Oregon State University are Doing to Create a Healthier Campus

We love our friends at Oregon State University (OSU), and we’re so proud of their efforts to make the Beaver campus smoke free in the fall of 2012. As PacificSource’s Healthy Life intern, I get the chance to work with the awesome people at OSU on public health initiatives that are improving the lives of their students. Last week, I had the chance to interview Stacey Edwards, the Smoke-free Project Director at OSU. I wanted to gain a better understanding of the partnership that PacificSource and OSU have, and what OSU is planning for the future.

Going smoke free is just one piece of the Oregon State University Healthy campus initiative, but it’s already helping to gain awareness about how students and faculty can live healthier lifestyles. Check out the interview I had with Stacey. 

Interview:

Me: What health behavior is being targeted by your program and why?

Stacey: The target of the program is to reduce tobacco use among Oregon State University students. The program targets both smoking and smokeless tobacco and involves engaging students in a one on one appointment, cessation treatment with nicotine patches and gum and other services.

Me: Who is the program helping?

Stacey: The program targets Oregon State University students who use tobacco products. This population often believes they are only “casual smokers”, and may perceive that they are less likely to become dependent on tobacco, or experience physical and psychological damage from their tobacco use.

Me: How does your program improve the health of your community?

Stacey: Decreasing tobacco use among students on campus will improve the overall health of those individual students as well as improve the health of the OSU community as a whole.

A student who quits smoking will have improvement in many areas of their health; becoming sick less often, allowing them to attend class more frequently. They will also be more likely to exercise frequently due to the lack of respiratory problems caused by smoking. The student will become less likely to develop long-term chronic health problems which are caused by smoking, and will allow them to avoid dealing with the social stigma that surrounds smoking, which can often lead to stress and other mental factors.

Me: How is PacificSource involved with your program?

Stacey: PacificSource provides funding, that allows Oregon State University Student Health Services to offer nicotine patches and nicotine gum free of charge to students who need them. This allows us to bypass a large barrier for students who are trying to quit smoking, but who cannot afford these treatment options, or perceive them to be too expensive relative to their effectiveness.

Without these funds, it would prevent many students from participating in the tobacco cessation program, and would make the program much less effective at drawing students in who would benefit from its services.

Me: What are the future goals of the program?

Stacey: The obvious goal would be to reduce the number of students who smoke on campus and better the health of the campus as a whole.

We would also like to increase the utilization of the program by non-daily smokers. These are students, who may not be able to see some of the physical effects of their smoking, but are very vulnerable to becoming dependent and would benefit greatly from the programs services.

I want to thank Oregon State University for their support of PacificSource and especially Stacey Edwards for taking the time to share this information with me. If you would like to respond to this blog post, or give your ideas for improving the Oregon State University community, please comment below!

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1 Comment

  1. Picky Eater

     /  July 18, 2012

    I like how they are helping the smokers quit at the same time they are creating the smoke-free zone. That seems much more realistic than just saying that you can’t smoke anywhere on campus.

    Reply

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