APhA-ASP Tobacco Cessation Health Fair
The Duquesne University Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA) and American Pharmacist Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) student chapters partnered with Tobacco Free Allegheny in November to hold a Tobacco Cessation Health Fair in the South Side, a medically underserved community in Pittsburgh.
Tobacco use, the number one cause of preventable disease in the United States, contributes to nearly 500,000 deaths every year. Just over 23 percent of Allegheny County residents use tobacco products, above the 21 percent average in Pennsylvania and 18.1 percent national average.
Duquesne University APhA-ASP Vice President Sa'ed Al-Olimat played a significant role in planning and executing the Health Fair.
"For me, there were many reasons I thought this event would be impactful," Al-Olimat said. "Promoting such an important topic within the community that may need it most may be very helpful for those willing to seek the help. I thought it would be a great opportunity for other students as well, to make poster presentations and work collaboratively within their student organizations. I believe it is also important to meet students and faculty from different institutions. Both Duquesne University and University of Pittsburgh organizations came together for this event with a common goal. It was very cool to see."
Multiple School of Pharmacy student organizations contributed to the event and presented posters with information on the effects of prolonged tobacco use, different methods to quit, and even information on carbon monoxide screening. The Duquesne University College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) student chapter created and dustributed handouts with information on the different chemicals found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
"It was quite impactful," Jenni Thomas, Duquesne University CPNP student chapter president said. "We were able to educate the public about these chemicals and where else they can be found, including in products like rat poison, battery acid, and road tar. We also showed that e-cigarettes contain these same deadly chemicals and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Our poster seemed to evoke a response from most attendees, many of whom declared they would keep this information in mind on their road to smoking cessation."
Operation H.E.A.R.T and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) distributed information on the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping and the consequences of secondhand smoke exposure to children and house pets.
"(Operation H.E.A.R.T) made an appearance at the Tobacco Cessation Health Fair and treated our visitors to two different themed boards," Kristen Kelly, a representative of Operation H.E.A.R.T, said. "One had information about just how long it can take post-smoking cessation for our bodies to return back to their normal status. Another highlighted tobacco's prominent influence on film and media culture throughout the last 100 years."
"This event allowed us to reach others that we would not have normally been able to reach", Choniece Phillips, SNPhA president said. "Everyone was very appreciative and interested to learn about tobacco cessation. We were able to educate others on a way to improve their health, and they were happy. Seeing community members engaged allowed us to see how much of an impact pharmacists can make."
The Duquesne University Phi Delta Chi professional fraternity gave a presentation on the cost of smoking over time.
"Working at the local event was a great opportunity to use my education from pharmacy school to help people in my community," Ryan Weideman of Phi Delta Chi said. "Once people were visually able to see how much cigarettes are costing them and continue to cost them in the future - it made them think about what else they could be doing with their money. I thoroughly enjoyed the work we did and would love the opportunity to do something like this again."
The Tobacco Cessation Health Fair allowed student pharmacists to engage with a medically underserved population and provide education on the benefits of quitting. Students gained a better understanding of the positive role pharmacists play in the community.
"As the most accessible healthcare providers, it's important for student pharmacists to interact with our local community," Liz Leonard, PPA president, said. "By participating in an event like the Tobacco Cessation Health Fair, we get to show the community a different side of pharmacists and how we engage in more than just dispensing medications.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.