University campaign cuts smoking by 29 percent
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) -- An experiment to snuff out smoking at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh was more successful than its organizers had anticipated.
Smoking by students fell by 29 percent on campus in 2001 -- well above the yearlong campaign' s goal of cutting smoking by 4 percent, said Joseph Abhold, a counselor at the school and coordinator of the program.
" It' s really amazing and we' re really pleased, " Abhold said. " This one measure isn' t something to go to the bank on, but it is a sign that we' re doing some things right."
To help smokers quit, the campaign covered campus walls with anti-smoking posters and smoking was banned from all dormitories. Smokers were asked to stand at least 25 feet from building entrances.
The student health center and student counselors also implemented a new quit-smoking program combining marketing, education and cessation efforts.
" It was very much targeted to let students know that they could get help to quit and that many other students wanted to quit, " Abhold said.
A survey in December 2000 showed that 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds at UW-Oshkosh smoked, compared with 29 percent nationally. A follow-up study in December 2001 found just 24 percent in that age group are smokers.
Freshman Kristine Anderson said the counseling program was a big encouragement in her quitting efforts. She stopped smoking in November.
" I really needed the help I got from the health center. I needed someone I could go and tell when I went another week without a cigarette, " she said.
The school received a $181, 000 grant from the Wisconsin Tobacco Control Board in 2001, and the board gave the campus another $140, 000 to continue the program in 2002. The school has set another 4 percent goal for this year.
The campaign is being used as a model for programs at other UW institutions.