Peers mentor students for smoke-free schools


Students helping students is the method Leave the Pack Behind is using to help smokers at Ontario colleges and universities butt out.

To begin the quitting process, students go to their campus’ health centre, and ask for LTPB’s literature. Included in the pack are two mini-booklets that help the reader examine the reasons they smoke, how to deal with people nagging them to quit smoking and a daily helper guide to quitting.

“I used to be an ex-smoker, so I can tell you it’s not easy to do,” Shabari Shenoy, campus coordinator of LTPB, said. “To get rid of the habit is the main thing. We’re not really focused on the individuals. We’re just trying to separate the individuals from the habit.”

LTPB raises interest in their program by doing walkabouts around the campus and stopping to talk to people at smoking areas around the school. “When you talk to smokers, you can’t talk to them like they’re anything else, ‘cause they’re just people. It’s just approaching someone and telling them what you’re about. If they’re interested they’ll listen, if they’re not they don’t listen. It’s a conversation-based engagement,” Shenoy said.

An initiative related to LTPB is Quit Run Chill. The goal of QRC is to assist people who are trying to quit by giving them an exercise plan focused on running, beginning with shorter runs of 20 minutes and building up to 40 minute and longer runs. “Leaving the smoke is easy, but wondering what to do next is the hard part; it’s a routine, it turns into an everyday activity,” Shenoy said.

Starting Jan. 27, LTPB will be holding a contest called “wouldurather” where smokers of varying degrees pledge to quit, or reduce their amount of smoking over a six-week period, and win a prize of up to $2,500. Once the contest is over, blood tests are administered to check for any nicotine in the contestant’s bloodstream. As part of the contest, entrants are given a six-week supply of nicotine replacement products, such as patches and gum.