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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Aggie Air Promotes a Healthier Campus

UC Davis Smoke and Tobacco Free Program launches Aggie Air across campus

UC Davis celebrates its fifth anniversary as a smoke and tobacco-free campus with Aggie Air, an online campus engagement tool for the campus community to track litter and smoke and tobacco usage.

“A lot of us want to tell somebody our concerns about tobacco litter, e-cigarettes and environmental concerns,” said Elisa Tong, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine.

By tagging campus areas, students, staff, faculty, neighbors and visitors can take an active role in the campus environment. It keeps the campus clean from smoke and vapor litter, reduces smoking behavior and provides supportive resources for members who use smoke and tobacco products.

The tool works similarly to TherMOOstat, an online tool for UC Davis students, faculty and staff to indicate their temperature preferences for buildings across campus to save energy and comfort.

“The tobacco industry is investing in social media influences,” Tong said. “It’s a new era of how the tobacco industry promotes their products and bypassing regulations. You hear ads. They market and promote to sell multiple e-cigarettes with flavors. It’s a new space for reinvention for them, but it may be just as harmful as traditional smoke and tobacco products, if not more.”

The American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment found among UC Davis undergraduates, 5.4% use smoke and tobacco products within 30 days while 0.7% use smoke and tobacco products every day.

“Students are excited to come to UC Davis because it’s a smoke and tobacco-free campus,” said Raeann Davis, a health promotion specialist at the UC Davis Student Health and Counseling Services. “It’s a deciding factor.”

Students who do use smoke and tobacco products face stigmatization, leaving them to search for ways to conceal their habits.

“Some students walk far off campus to smoke,” Davis said. “They try to hide their habits.”

The Smoke and Tobacco-Free Program aims to take a positive approach to students, offering quit kits, cessation classes and one-on-one support with student ambassadors and health specialists.

Every year, the program assesses litter across campus over a 48 hour period through Environmental Butt Scans, clearing an area on campus and returning to assess smoke and tobacco usage.

“One of the locations popular for smoking is the bridge near Tercero by the cows,” said Audrey Maskiewicz, a first-year biological sciences major and Spanish minor and student ambassador for the UC Davis Smoke and Tobacco Free Program. “Every time I walk there, there’s someone smoking.”

Students can also participate in the campus cleanups, taking pride in their campus environment and the health of students by showing their support.

“When I did the environmental butt scans, I collected over 700 butts on a Tuesday morning,” Maskiewicz said. “When I returned there on Thursday, there was still about the same amount of butts.”

Aggie Air hopes to serve as a pilot program for other college campuses interested in implementing smoke and tobacco-free policies and engagement strategies.

Written by: Foxy Robinson — science@theagggie.org


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