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Student campaigns against vaping

Victoria Molumo, Staff Writer

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While some people vape or smoke e-cigarettes to ease themselves off smoking tobacco, some people do it because it is perceived as cool and because they don’t want to miss out on trying a new trend. When we began our college journey, one of the things at the top of our lists was to assimilate and try new things. The wave of independence hits us, and we realized that it was our time to explore. Curiosity is a human trait that’s rather hard to erase. We bask in the glory of the new freedom and sometimes, we baptize ourselves in unhealthy behaviors like vaping or smoking.

When Casey Stover, a graduate student pursuing a major in public health, moved to WCU, she wanted to make an impact. Casey did thorough research on the issues on campus and she found out there is a high prevalence of e-cigarette use. About 25 percent of WCU students have vaped at least once, and vaping among WCU students is about 10 percent higher than the national average. Detecting the problem was just the beginning. As we all know, finding the root cause of the problem, and then creating and implementing solutions are the difficult parts.

The higher percentage of vaping at WCU is said to be directly correlated with conforming to social norms. The more students think other students are vaping or smoking, the more likely they are to vape themselves. In reality, as explained by Stover, seven out of 10 first-year WCU students have never vaped, and four out of five students have never smoked. Although a majority of students have never participated in vaping, we still think it’s a lot more common than they are.

Having realized what the issue was, Stover developed a seven-week smoking campaign that addresses the prevalence of smoking at WCU. The smoking campaign idea was brought to life with the help of Dr. Gopal Sankaran, Dr. Whitney Katoral, Mary Jane Rogan and Sherry Mendez.

For the campaign, Stover hung posters and yard signs all around campus. The plan for the campaign is to share information on how many students have never smoked. Stover said, “[By] adjusting the perception on use, in return we hope to see a lowering of the prevalence.” The first phase of the campaign is coming to an end, and the second phase is asking for support from WCU first-year students. Stover is urging first-year students to fill out the anonymous survey online, as participants will be entered to win one of ten $50 Amazon gift cards.

Although college is a place to learn and grow, Stover’s smoking campaign definitely brings to mind that we should be aware that conforming to behaviors may not have a positive impact on our growth.

Victoria Molumo is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in international business. ✉ [email protected].

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Student campaigns against vaping