By Jaclyn McRae
Kate Fishwick first tried a college-supported stop-smoking program when she began her course.
Fishwick, a third year massage therapy student, had been smoking for several years when she joined the Leave The Pack Behind program.
“The information out there and the program that they have is really good,” said Fishwick. “I think it was more like I wasn’t ready. I thought it would be a good idea when I first came to college. It’s not as easy as I thought,” she said.
Fishwick was among the participants in the government funded program started in 2000.
“It is something I’m looking into for next semester because as a massage therapist no one wants to smell dirty nicotine hands when you’re working on someone, so that’s a huge driving factor, ” she said.
The college hasn’t always had readily available funding to staff the program.
“We have a health promotion team this year that specifically does Leave The Pack Behind, but for a few years we didn’t have a student team that was paid to do that,” said Sandra McCormick, manager of Health Services.
Regardless of lacking a designated team, Health Services staff themselves continued to support Algonquin students.
“We had the highest number of clients in Ontario of all the postsecondary institutions for the fall 2013 semester. The nurses and doctors were promoting it,” said McCormick, regarding last year’s success thanks to a committed staff.
For many students, smoking is an anxiety-calming solution. However, even for smokers, the harm it causes to health is undeniable, not to mention how costly smoking is for financially strapped students.
Leave The Pack Behind is a government funded program to help youth quit smoking. It’s been available at Algonquin’s Health Services for several years.
Despite a delay in receiving supplies, the program is now fully stocked and accepting new participants.
The program offers nicotine replacement patches, gums and counselling to support students trying to quit.
Judith Doxtater, a registered nurse with Health Services explains that even when the college doesn’t have supplies on hand, students can order the products via the Leave The Pack Behind website free of charge, and continue to receive counselling and support from the college.
“I started smoking when I was very young. I hadn’t had a cigarette in two years and I started again two months ago, so now I’m in the process of quitting again,” said Ross Campbell.
A second year robotics student, Campbell has been smoking for 20 years.
“I know how hard it is to quit. A few days ago I would have liked to have somebody to talk to. I would definitely consider it,” he said of the program.