UW-Sheboygan receives SPARK tobacco awareness grant
The University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan has received a state-supported SPARK grant to reduce the impact of tobacco marketing on youth.
Spark was created and is funded under Wisconsin’s Tobacco Control and Prevention program, but is housed in Brookfield under the auspices of the American Lung Association. A program for 18-24 year olds, Spark began in 2011 to educate and advocate for tobacco-use prevention. It helps college campuses raise awareness about the threats of using tobacco and helps campuses with efforts to pass anti-tobacco policies.
Through a variety of education and outreach events, Lauren Johnson, UW-Sheboygan Mental Health counseling intern, and Kristine Feggestad, UW-Sheboygan Mental Health counselor, have provided anti-tobacco information to students, faculty and staff over the past semester. The group is also advocating for a tobacco-free campus policy, versus just a smoke-free policy, because of the negative health effects and increased prevalence of “other tobacco products (OTPs).
“Over the last few years, the tobacco industry has introduced many new products – smoking and smokeless – that are candy and fruit flavored and packaged to resemble candy,” Feggestad said. “They also are taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes, making them less expensive and more affordable to college students on a budget. These products are not a safe alternative to smoking. The current policy on campus allows for students/staff to smoke in the parking lot and in a single, outside designated area.”
The Spark group is pursuing the policy because it:
• Creates a healthier environment for students, faculty and staff;
• Fosters easier enforcement than the current policy; and
• Provides motivation for tobacco users to get the help they need to quit for good.
The group will not analyze data from student surveys to see if there is support among the student population to pursue a policy change regarding tobacco product usage, and meet with administrators to determine other steps involved in a policy change on campus.
For more information about the SPARK program, contact the Kristine Feggestad at (920) 459-6684 or Kristine.firstname.lastname@example.org.