By Ryan Peddigrew 
BELLEVILLE – Nicotine replacement therapy is now offered at the health centre on campus, Loyalist College announced Tuesday.
This comes nearly 10 months after the college officially put its smoke-free policy in place, which took action Jan. 1 of this year.
The on-campus nicotine replacement therapy is available through a partnership with the Hastings and Prince Edward County Public Health Unit, which is supplying the nicotine patches that are used in the replacement process.
Lauren Deans, the health centre’s lead nurse, said the process starts when students who are looking to quit come to see her. They do an assessment of how much they smoke and decide on either a two-step or a three-step program that involves wearing nicotine patches daily. This helps smokers slowly wean off of nicotine dependency.
“This is a really good option. It really increases your chance of quitting smoking by 85 per cent.”
The strategy is similar to other smoking cessation programs. Deans has praise for Leave The Pack Behind , an Ontario-based program to help young adults quit smoking by offering quitting strategies, materials and even having a challenge every year  to encourage people to quit by adopting healthy lifestyles.
“They’ve had a contest every year. Quit, run, do whatever. Just anything to not smoke … The program was doing quite well and with our present government that was one of the programs that got cut,” Deans said.
Deans is referring to the budget cuts that led to the end of Leave The Pack Behind. In March, the program got a phone call from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to inform them that the Ford government was cutting its funding after 19 years. They officially shut down in June of this year. According to a CBC interview with Kelli-an Lawrence , the program’s director, they helped approximately 40,600 people quit since the program’s inception in 2000.
According to SmokeFreeCampus , a website dedicated to the tracking smoke-free policies at Ontario’s colleges and universities, nearly half of the province’s public secondary institutions have officially gone smoke free to some degree. McMaster was the first to do it in January 2018.
Ryan LaFleur, who studies in the welding and fabrication program at Loyalist, says it could be a good idea, and that he thinks people might be interested.
“I think it’s probably a good concept for certain people that maybe want to get off smoking … I guess it depends on what it would be about.” said LaFleur, who only smokes cigarillos these days.
As for Deans, she’s hopeful that students looking to drop the habit and break the cycle will give it a try.
“I know that I have heard my success stories with the students and them going ‘I did it finally, I did it’ and you’re just going ‘Wow’,” Deans said.
More information about on-campus nicotine replacement therapy is available at the campus health centre.