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Apr 30, 2024

Eliminate Tobacco Use & Truth Initiative Partner for a First-Ever College & University Peer Educator Training Webinar

In collaboration with the Truth Initiative, the Eliminate Tobacco Use Initiative organized its first College & University Peer Educator Webinar. Kristen Tertzakian from the Truth Initiative shared insights about the impact of nicotine on mental health and the environment. The webinar was open to student peer educators and leaders from college and university campuses across Texas.

Tertzakian’s key message was clear: "For people who experience depression, anxiety or stress, quitting nicotine can make you feel better." She shared data about nicotine’s effect on mental health including:

  • Among college students, 4.6% are current cigarette smokers (past 30-day use) and 18.9% are current e-cigarette users.
  • Vaping nicotine can intensify symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase stress levels.
  • 93% of vapers reported that vaping negatively affected their lives because it made them feel more stressed, depressed or anxious.
  • 90% of young e-cigarette users who quit reported feeling less stressed, anxious or depressed.

After discussing ways to promote This is Quitting to students and event planning guidelines, participants were divided into breakout rooms to collaborate with their peers and create a campus awareness event proposal. The proposed event ideas included:

  • Collaborating with local animal humane societies to bring awareness to the effect of secondhand smoke on pets.
  • Hosting a "Goats to Quit Smoking" goat yoga event during finals week to reduce stress.
  • Exchanging vapes for free t-shirts to encourage quitting and the adoption of healthy behaviors to improve mental health.
  • Hosting a "Clear Mind, Clear Lungs" event to promote the physical and mental health benefits of quitting nicotine.

The 48 webinar participants - representing 13 organizations – left with actionable plans to increase awareness on their campus about the detrimental effects of nicotine on mental health and healthy coping behaviors.