A new student-run campaign created this semester aims to help people kick the smoking habit.
The campaign, STJ Quits, assists anyone in the St. John’s community looking to stop smoking.
“We’re looking for positive outlets for people who want to quit smoking,” said Jena Marion, a junior and one of the campaign coordinators. “We don’t want to take cigarettes right out of peoples’ mouths and tell them to stop smoking and we don’t want to bombard them with pictures of what could happen to them if they continue to smoke because we think people know that already.
“We want to focus on something a little more positive.” The inspiration for STJ Quits came from the NYC Quits campaign from the New York State Department of Health.
The group said they had about 30 people signed up to receive assistance from them during the Wellness Fair Sept. 22.
Currently, the group provides resources for people who have expressed an interest in quitting smoking, such as ways to get in touch with services offered by Queens Hospital and the Smokers’ Quit Hotline.
In November, the group plans to host “The Great American Smokeout,” an event sponsored by The American Cancer Society.
“We are hoping to do a luncheon event and invite people who have been actively involved in STJ Quits, people who have already quit and they want to share their stories with others and we just want to make it a celebration and give recognition to these people who have quit,” Marion said.
In the future, organizers of STJ Quits say they hope to also hold focus and support groups to offer further aid to people who want to quit smoking.
“We feel that there is a very high percentage of smokers on campus and we feel that a lot of people probably do want to quit but don’t really know where to turn,” Marion said. “We want them to know that we are here and that there are places they can go if they’re thinking about quitting.”
People can pledge to quit smoking via the groups’ STJ Quits Facebook page. Marion and Marilena Minucci, assistant director of Student Wellness Education and STJ Quits faculty advisor, said the success of the campaign hinges as much on their support services as well as on the individual looking to quit smoking.
“When you make a pledge to stop smoking, it’s going to be an honor system to a point,” said Marion. “We’re not going to call people every hour and ask ‘did you have a cigarette?’
“They need to take the first step and say I want to quit and that’s the only way we can help and say this is how you can start.”
Marion said although the campaign works to get people to stop smoking, they are not advocating that a smoking ban be put into place at St. John’s.
“I think that would be a drastic step for any university, especially ours,” she said. “But I don’t think it would be the right way to deal with it because that’s not going to stop people from smoking, it’s just going to increase the amount of people that will go off campus to smoke.”
Minucci added, “We will try to be consistent in supporting them.
“Sometimes it takes several attempts [at quitting] to be successful. So we are looking into more ways we can continuously reach out so that people know they have a method of support.” she said.