Students help kick smoking to the curb

(Photo by Rebecca Hardcastle)

(Photo by Rebecca Hardcastle)

Students from SAIT’s School of Heath and Public Safety want to help those who plan to quit smoking with a new smoking cessation program.

“Our students are actually trained to help support people who are quitting or want to quit smoking,” said Patricia Reader-Downey, academic chair of the Wellness Portfolio at SAIT.

According to Reader-Downey, the new campaign gives those enrolled in Nutrition for Healthy Lifestyles, Respiratory Therapy and Dental Assisting programs practical experience in counselling as well as identifying and managing cardio-pulmonary disorders.

Reader-Downey said that the smoking cessation program will assess readiness to quit, explore tools and support to help quit smoking, as well as provide coaching for effective quitting strategies. In addition, the students from the Nutrition for Healthy Lifestyles program have advice to help avoid weight gain when quitting. 

Chris Gerritsen, SAIT’s spokesperson, said that the students from the School of Health and Pubic Safety have been marketing their services around campus. The campaign was introduced in January during the SAIT Health Fair, where students were able to reach out to smokers.

During the health fair, SAIT’s security team was recruited to handout lollipops to smokers around campus, which included a phone number they could call, said Gerritsen. 

“A number of people have already signed up for the nutrition and tobacco counselling,” Reader-Downey said.

In previous years, there had been programs that were more focused on nutrition.

“But what we’re finding is that we have some opportunities to actually look at wellness as a whole, which includes nutrition, tobacco reduction, increasing activity, managing symptoms of stress and so on.”

Reader-Downey said that the goal of the program is to improve the overall wellness of SAIT students. 

“We have students who can help with that and they should be connected to each other,” she said. 

Students from the School of Health and Public Safety are also collaborating with the School of Information and Communications Technologies on other promotions, including a contest to develop a marketing campaign.

There’s smoking cessation marketing for adults and kids, “but there isn’t anything in this age group,” said Reader-Downey. 

Reader-Downey said the marketing campaign is going to be developed by students for students with a focus on student lifestyles.

Online registration will soon be up and running on, said Reader-Downey. Upon registration, students from the campaign will get in touch with those who have signed up. Alternatively, appointments can be booked by calling (403) 629-1921.

SAIT is also connected to the program AlbertaQuits, which is run through Alberta Health Services, Reader-Downey said. “If we can’t provide as much support for them as they need then we’ll make sure they get the other support as well.”

There are more than 40 SAIT students and staff who are involved in the program .

“The most valuable part, I think, is the students helping other students,” Reader-Downey said. 

 “I want the students to be healthier when they go out the door than they were when they came.”

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