LBW going 100% smoke-free

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, March 20, 2019

LBW Community College is implementing a 100 percent smoke and tobacco free campus policy on its campuses, thanks to a grant from the CVS Health Foundation and Truth Initiative.

“The truth programs are normally found at bigger schools,” Program Leader Dr. Arlene Davis said. “But they are trying to get more into community colleges.”

Davis said that two students have been pivotal in making this change on the LBW campus.

“We have two college leaders in our Truth Program that have spearheaded the initiative,” Davis said. “Caroline Wood and Trevon McClain are the ones responsible for getting students to respond by text to the Truth Initiative to request more information. The Truth Initiative set a goal for us that we had to get 70 students to send that text, but more than 250 students sent it.”

Since the students got so many people to send the text, the Truth Initiative is sending a bus tour to LBW Community College in April to have a rally.

“We are now in the top 10 in the nation for people who have responded,” Davis said. “They have worked really hard and I am so proud of them.”

President of LBW Community College Dr. Herbert Riedel said that he plans to have all LBW campuses nicotine free by 2020.

“Our approach is going to be through information, persuasion and leadership,” Riedel said. “What I like about this approach is that it is really focused on persuasion and changing the culture.”

With the grant, the program was able to provide several incentives and information for students to not smoke.

“We were able to provide gas cards for students who came to informational meetings,” Davis said. “Through the grant we can purchase food, like pizza for different rallies and parties that we have, we have little bags of sunflower seeds that we give to the baseball and softball teams to chew on. It is not necessarily all about truth, but it is about getting LBW’s voice out there by saying, ‘Hey, we are going smoke free and tobacco free.’”

Riedel said that not only students, but employees at LBW have already started the change of not smoking.

“Already, just by drawing attention to this we have encouraged some of our employees to give up smoking,” Riedel said. “I mean, everyone really knows that smoking is not healthy and it excludes them from the company of other people, but sometimes people need that little extra push.”

He said that many of the students aren’t thinking far into the future about how smoking could affect their lives.

“The majority of our students are young, single students and not thinking about one day having a family,” Riedel said. “I remember growing up in the 60s and gagging on smoke in the car because my dad smoked. One day these students are going to have families that depend on them and love them and don’t want them to be sick. When you’re 20, it is hard to think about what life will be like when you are 70, but one day you will be 70 and you will want to make it to 80 or 90 without being afflicted with COPD or lung cancer.”

Riedel believes that it is important that this topic is being talked about on his campus.

“We want to be a leader,” Riedel said. “There are other colleges in our system that have gone this route, so we are not really breaking new ground as far as our system of 24 community colleges in the state, but it is important to me that we are a good positive example. We need to encourage our students to grow, not just intellectually, but also in terms of their health and well being.”

The Truth Initiative Tour Bus will be in Andalusia on April 10, from 9 a.m., until 1 p.m., hosting a rally for all LBW students as well as juniors and seniors from the Covington County schools.