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Funds Cut for Smoking Reduction Program

NAIT student vaping on campus

By Nicole Murphy

A free nicotine reduction program on campus is coming to an end. Staff and students can access the patches until supplies run out.

Cut the Craving Tobacco Reduction Program consists of a few different elements that are designed to help students and staff who are addicted to nicotine products reduce their intake. However, funding was cut after over a decade of service.

The program started in 2007/2008 with a grant that ran the program until 2012, when Health and Safety Services took over financial support. Due to recent budget cuts at NAIT there is no longer money allocated to continue the program.

After 45 years of smoking, NAIT Construction Technician Dario Tomada had no plans to quit until he saw a Cut the Crave presentation and decided to give it a try.

Tomada explained he was given his own personalized smoking plan that included nicotine gum and patches, check-ins once a week with a nurse for counselling and, although it was challenging, he has been smoke free for nearly two years.

“I have more wind, my dog likes to be closer now, little things like that,” said Tomada. “Walking into a grocery store I used to be self conscious because people would cough and I think it was because I reeked like cigarettes. It just sucks a lot of your thinking and devotes it to such a stupid little habit.”

“I’ve got a lot of freedom now.”

Tomada believes his success was due to a combination of the gum and patches, stating the importance of having something to replace the habit of using your mouth. He says that without the outreach event at NAIT he never would have tried to quit in the first place.

The program has helped between 200 and 250 students and staff per year. Some of these have been repeat students that come and go from apprenticeship programs.

“Nicotine is very addictive. Quitting cold turkey can actually cause tremors; it can cause cold sweats, anxiety, so when you decrease it helps your body adjust,” said Christine Bannerman, Health Services Supervisor.

At one time the program offered individual support for two months, but now it is for two to three weeks, without nicotine gum. Although staff provides patches for over the weekends.

“The future ideal would be to partner with a company or agency, or potentially get another grant to build the program up to where it was, so it’s more robust and we’re able to continue to help the staff and students to reduce the amount of nicotine in their system,” said Bannerman.

Shaun Ferri, a Forestry Technology student, has been smoking for about 10 years. He has seen the Cut the Crave program advertised on posters around NAIT and has thought about accessing the service.

“I mean it is really cool, especially if it is free help because those patches are really expensive,” said Ferri. “I don’t think it’s [Health Services’] responsibility, but I think it is really cool if they are trying to help out the students.”

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