Student Health Committee emphasizes smoking ban

The Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), one of the clubs responsible for connecting student needs with campus resources, assists and advises the Student Health Center by helping to publicize and improve the awareness of the services provided by its workers. 

The group also plays a key role in recognizing campus-related health issues as well as improving the general wellbeing of the student body.

“I think it is important for the Health Center to have a connection with the students that is more extensive than just patient and doctor,” said Austin Hartford, a fourth year biology major and chairperson/president of the club.

Of all the projects SHAC has been working on, members and advisors alike agree that a relevant issue right now is the non-smoking ban that is being deliberated in the California State University chancellor’s office. 

According to members of the club, both SHAC and Associated Students have succeeded in working together to create a new school policy in which smoking cigarettes or using any tobacco-related products will not be allowed on campus.

“The support is there,” said Toni Boracchia, RN and an education nurse at the Student Health Center. “We want to approach the issue with the idea of a community coming together to challenge and build a new social norm.”

Georgia Schwartz, MD, director of the Student Health Center and self-titled, medical consultant and cheerleader for the new policy, recently met with Associated Students to spread the message of hope.

“We have to go about this in an educational way,” said Schwartz. “Instead of imposing a ban, we have to educate students on the bad effects of smoking to the smoker and the effects to those around him or her.”

Members of SHAC all concluded that the last issue with the ban lies with enforcement of the policy. 

While some universities have imposed a fine or a ticket to those who are caught smoking on campus, SHAC and the Student Health Center do not think this is the best option. 

Members of SHAC recently created a small information card to pass out to students regarding the signs of someone who might be poisoned by alcohol as well as advice on what to do, including phone numbers for local taxis and public transportation. 

At their last meeting, members of SHAC discussed the possibility of creating another card, this time with information regarding the effects of tobacco use.

Besides its involvement with the smoking ban, SHAC is in full swing with a schedule of upcoming events.

Officers and members recently worked with 4PAWS and Paws for Healing, to host a Doggy Play Day on Saturday and the club has other events lined up, including volunteer work at the Redwood Empire Food Bank on Oct. 3 and the Alzheimer’s Walk that will take place on Oct. 18. 

SHAC is also planning an HIV testing day on Dec. 2 that will be both free and anonymous.

SHAC will continue to work with the Student Health Center to make its resources and services more available and relevant to needs of the students, as well as events that will promote good health and wellbeing. 

For more information on SHAC, visit their website at sonoma.edu/shc/shac or drop by the Health Center.