Martin Collegiate in Regina is launching a new campaign aimed at helping students stop using tobacco.
The campaign is called ‘Fresh Start February’. It encourages people who use tobacco to pledge to quit for at least 10 days. Other students can also pledge to support those who smoke or chew to stop. The school will then provide on-going help for those struggling with addiction, as well as keeping non-smokers from ever starting.
“Research has suggested that Saskatchewan has some of the highest youth smoking rates and so this is something we really applaud Martin Collegiate for stepping up and talking to the students, creating a supportive environment,” said Kelsey Michaluk, cancer control coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society.
On Friday hundreds of students were shown a video of a man who suffered from oral cancer he got at 17 years old from chewing tobacco. He underwent more than three dozen surgeries that left his face disfigured. He died recently when his cancer returned.
“Now that we’ve started this campaign and they kind of have more information and knowledge about it, I see a lot more people slowing down on their tobacco use, if not completely stopping overall,” said Grade 10 student Taylor Smith.
Smith is part of a tobacco committee at the high school made up of smokers and non-smokers. Its purpose is to help educate students.
“A lot of kids nowadays that do use tobacco don’t understand the long term effects that it’ll really have on their lives,” he explained.
The school is also now closely involved with athletics through Martin Academy, and Smith said there’s a bigger focus on making healthy choices due in part to that addition.
Grade 12 student Harman Kahlon unfortunately sees both athletes and non-athletes using.
“Martin students as well as the athletes, both of them, there’s quite a few that use tobacco, so I think this initiative is a good way to help students stop and quit,” she said.M
Weekly support lunches are being organized where professionals like pharmacists will be brought in to outline different approaches to quitting.