Oct. 10, 2003
Kissing Posters Gaining Popularity at UW-River Falls
By Jessica Campbell
UW-RF News Bureau
An intriguing poster of an attractive young couple is catching the attention of students at UW-River Falls.
The picture of a couple on the verge of kissing and the words, "You Know You Want To," are displayed on large posters around campus. However, the posters aren't about what they appear to be. To understand the message from the nearly-kissing couple, students must read the very small, fine print: 90 percent of UW-River Falls students would rather kiss a non-smoker.
The text encourages college smokers to want to quit smoking, suggesting, "Give it up," these posters are a part of the Tobacco Prevention Program being implemented at the UW-RF.
The University received a grant of $42,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement a program aimed at preventing and reducing the use of tobacco by students. The Tobacco Prevention Program is based on a model developed at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In hopes of similar success, such as the 29 percent decrease in smoking after only one year at UW-Oshkosh, UW-RF launched its program in January. The extensive "You Know You Want To" marketing campaign attempts to convince students to quit using tobacco while reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
A recent survey showed that 16 percent of UW-RF students consider themselves smokers. Significantly, 74 percent of them said they want to quit before they graduate; this figure is also seen up-close on the posters. With the help of Jennifer Elsesser, UW-RF tobacco education coordinator, hopefully this year's graduating class will be smoke-free.
The posters reflect students' attitudes that smoking is unattractive.
"The response has been very positive," says Elsesser, "My sense is that the majority of the campus community agrees with our message. Even students, faculty, and staff who smoke seem open to it."
Also appearing around campus in support of tobacco prevention is Mannequin Jane. Jane is placed in poses and has signs that carry messages about quitting smoking.
The campaign also incorporates the word, "free," which is an eye-catching word for any college student. Such free give-aways also are part of the campaign, including "Love your Lungs" pens are used in class, and "Nice Lungs" tee shirts that students can wear around campus.
Information tables, with the freebies, are located in Rodli Commons and Hagestad Student Center several times each month. These tables also have quit kits, information on secondhand smoke, a student feedback journal.
Student interns offer to share presentations in classrooms, resident halls, or to student organizations regarding the project, campus attitudes about smoking, and the risks of secondhand smoke. A web site also offers a variety of information.
Over 100 quit kits also have been handed out. They include a booklet by the American Cancer Society, a community cessation resource guide, as well as a two week plan to quit smoking or chewing. A cost of smoking calculator measures money spent on tobacco according to individual counts of packs per day and smoking frequency. Completing the kit are gum, mints, and sunflower seeds. Each individual who picks up a kit receives a follow-up after a couple of weeks to find out how he or she is doing and how the quit kit could be improved.
The campaign has also caught on in downtown River Falls, where the City Council recently passed an ordinance that bans smoking in all restaurants. UW-RF, which bans smoking in all buildings, will soon decide whether to require smokers to stay at least 25 feet around all buildings.
The campus is one of the last in the UW-RF System to institute the restriction. It's likely to be popular with students, who reported that 93 percent of them believe people should be protected from secondhand smoke.
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