Cigarettes are becoming increasingly taboo with each generation and that's a reason to celebrate, according to the B.C. Lung Association.
Leading the pack in anti-smoking campaigns is Thompson Rivers University.
The B.C. Lung Association recently honoured the students, staff and volunteers with the TRU Wellness Centre and the Respiratory Therapy department as champions and trailblazers in the fight against smoking.
They were named one of 10 Champions for Tobacco-Free Living Award Winners last month — the only post-secondary institution so recognized.
"TRU Wellness Centre is a role model for other post-secondary institutions on how to go about achieving reductions in second-hand smoke exposure and improvements in student access to and awareness of quit-smoking resources," said Diego Marchese, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Scott McDonald, CEO of the B.C. Lung Association, cited TRU's sustained commitment to tobacco use reduction and its ingenuity at involving students and faculty members in creating interactive solutions as reasons for the award.
In 2004, the university established its first Wellness Centre and implemented a policy prohibiting tobacco sales on campus, banning smoking in university vehicles and extending the provincial ban on smoking within three metres of exits and entryways to 7.6 metres.
Eight years on, TRU has proven itself a true innovator on tobacco use issues.
"We have to credit our students who just keep coming up with great ideas," says Chelsea Corsi, TRU Wellness co-ordinator. "Two years ago they implemented annual butt clean-up days, helping create a visual connection between the mess tobacco butts create while showing students how much of their money has gone up in smoke."
Each January, TRU conducts its Great Canadian Smoke-out, running quit contests with cash prizes in addition to regular quit-smoking support groups and information kiosks across campus.
These campaigns are often targeted to populations with higher smoking rates – like international and trades students.
TRU has partnered with different faculties such as respiratory therapy, nursing and social work to use campaigns as learning and mentoring opportunities for students.
When the respiratory therapy students created quit-smoking materials as a project, they were so successful that tobacco training became part of the mandatory school curriculum.
"The cross-pollination of ideas between faculty and students is powerful," says Janine Chan, a Respiratory Therapy faculty member.
B.C. has some of the strongest tobacco control legislation in Canada and the lowest smoking rate (14 per cent) of any province or territory.
Champions for Tobacco-Free Living award winners were nominated by community members, public health staff and health care professionals in B.C.