Kicking butts

Student organization continues working to make Ferris tobacco-free

The American Cancer Society awarded Ferris with a grant in 2017 to help the university become a tobacco-free campus, and students are still working towards this goal.

“At this stage, we are finalizing the last of our data collection and we are in contact with Dr. Jerry Scoby, the Vice President of Administration and Finance, as to what our next steps will be,” Ferris Public Health Student Association (PHSA) President Samuel Stover said.

PHSA, with help from Ferris public health assistant professor Fathima Wakeel, applied for the grant during the Spring 2017 semester.

“What we’re doing is what public health is all about,” Wakeel said. “I’m thrilled that I’m able to bring the students in so actively to show and apply the concept that we show in the classroom in terms of advocating for public health.”

Since June 2017, PHSA and Wakeel have worked toward this goal, including hosting the November 2018 Great American Smokeout (GASO) event in the University Center (UC). GASO, a nationwide event, encourages American tobacco users to quit smoking for one day. PHSA, along with the Birkam Health Center and District 10 Health Department, educated Ferris students on the impacts tobacco use has on individuals and the people around them.

“Our policy is not to tell people to quit,” Wakeel said. “Just don’t do it where it’s going to affect people on campus, because we want everyone to be safe. There’s also a large environmental impact on smoking. It makes the campus look dirty for visitors. It’s not a good image.”

“Cigarettes are all over campus, and it makes the campus look dirty,” Ferris dental hygiene sophomore Rylie Brunk said. “They have those ashtrays right by the doors. It encourages smoking close to the buildings.”

PHSA also conducted a campuswide survey asking Ferris students their opinions for having a tobacco-free campus, which yielded 713 responses.

“Overall, our findings indicated there is strong support for a tobacco-free campus at Ferris,” Wakeel said.

Many universities across Michigan have adopted tobacco-free policies in recent years. Michigan State University (MSU), Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan have all adopted tobacco-free campus policies in the last 20 years, with MSU adopting their policies August 2017.

“Ferris really needs to get on it,” Wakeel said. “I hear students say, ‘I came here, and I was really surprised to see people smoking. I never thought that would be allowed.’”

PHSA will continue its work throughout the Spring 2019 semester and will host the Kick Butts Day event Wednesday, March 20, in the UC.