California State University, Long Beach
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Breathe In, Breathe Out

Published: April 17, 2017

Breathe Campaign student advocates.
Breathe Campaign student advocates.

The Breathe Campaign at CSULB came into effect in September of last year. Since then, the campaign has made strides towards its overall goal of creating a smoke-, vapor- and tobacco-free campus.

After mobilizing Breathe Advocates during the spring semester of last year, co-chairs of the campaign, Natalie Whitehouse-Capuano and Claire Garrido-Ortega recruited more than a dozen “Breathe Advocates” last fall and have 28 this semester.

Breathe Advocates are students, usually health science or health care administration majors, completing an internship as a graduation requirement through the Breathe Campaign.

Advocates can be seen around campus with their signature green Breathe Campaign T-shirts while promoting awareness about the policy to smokers on campus, providing resources to help them quit and informing them about the health consequences of smoking.

Evelin Vazquez, health science major and advocate, says the experience so far has been a positive one.

“We go out daily and search for people who may be smoking and educate them on our policy and the resources available,” said Vazquez. “Most students want the resources and want to quit.”

Vazquez says, however, that staff members who smoke are less receptive to the policy and the Breathe Advocates who approach them.

“It’s harder for them to quit because they’re older and have been smoking for years,” said Vazquez. “International students also have a hard time because of different smoking laws and smoking culture in other countries.”

According to statistics compiled by the Breathe Campaign Task Force, Breathe Advocates have “comprehensively educated over 300 violators.” This number does not include smokers who have approached advocates for information or any outreach done by campaign members.

The statistics also state that “over the past year, there have been over 100 tobacco cessation visits to CSULB’s Student Health Services and over 70 quit kits have been distributed.”

Although the campaign is allowing a three-year grace period before enforcement takes place (the actual date will be September 2019), Breathe Advocates and the rest of the Breathe Campaign Task Force will keep promoting the policy and touting resources available to smokers. They are also hoping to implement this campaign system-wide.

Recently, Breathe Advocates made a presentation before the CSU Chancellor’s Office during a Board of Trustees meeting in an effort to help make all CSU’s smoke-, vapor- and tobacco-free.

As the campaign continues, Whitehouse-Capuano and Garrido-Ortega hope to focus their efforts on more branding and outreach on campus, starting with banners and signs.

“Some of our stuff has been vandalized and banners have been stolen, so we’re looking to get bigger A-frames that can last longer and might be more difficult for people to steal,” said Whitehouse-Capuano.

The Breathe Campaign is also looking to expand its Frequently Asked Questions section online and even begin to giving out citations.

“We’d like to see citations given out, but we’ll follow what the task force suggests,” said Garrido-Ortega.

As far as campus reception towards the campaign, the co-chairs say it has been a success thus far.

“President Conoley gets emails constantly about people quitting and thanking her for implementing the campaign,” said Garrido-Ortega. “That’s the ultimate goal.”