Bridging scientific research with community service, the Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences (FNAS) in collaboration with the Office of Students Affairs’ (SAO) Department of Community Service and Awareness (CSA) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) conducted a seminar aiming to address whether vaping is a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. The event featured distinguished guest speaker Dr. Myriam El Hage from Hospital Notre Dame des Secours, offering an in-depth medical understanding of both the vaping and smoking processes. In attendance were Dr. Ghazi Asmar, Assistant Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Dr. Roger Nakad, Dean of the FNAS, Dr. Charbel Zgheib, Dean of Students, Dr. Maria Njeim, Head of CSA, and Dr. Esther Ghanem, FNAS Associate Professor and main coordinator of the event, alongside faculty, staff, and students. Students from the BIO204 course and Eureka Club provided a practical dimension to the event, by preparing surveys, posters, and on-site spirometer tests to assess students’ breathing capacities.
Ghanem opened the event with a positive note, underscoring the importance of the initiative that received full endorsement from the FNAS and SAO, and gaining substantial support on the ground and involving the entire student body. Nakad was given the stage next, emphasizing the interdependence of the elements in the air regarding smoke inhalation: for instance, the exhaled smoke from a student at the entrance of NDU could impact the inhaled air quality of a faculty member working indoors. Nakad further highlighted the commitment of the Faculty to integrate science-based initiatives to foster the environmental well-being of the University.
Up next was Njeim, who spoke of the campus smoking policy and underscored the significance of adhering to designated smoking areas to maintain campus cleanliness and mitigate the risk of pulmonary diseases. Afterward, El Hage actively engaged with attendees and added a clinical perspective, offering a deeper understanding of vaping and smoking chemical byproducts and their effects on cellular modifications, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular and lung diseases. El Hage concluded the discussion on the risks involved in both vaping and smoking processes with a firm statement: “The word safe does not apply here. Doing less harm is never considered safe, with the end goal being the same: smoking kills.”
Fattal Holding contributed to the cause by distributing nicotine gum, a subset of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), encouraging attendees to take proactive steps towards smoking withdrawal and cessation.
BIO204 students encouraged the attendees to partake in the research study by completing the administered survey. Student group visits will be arranged to the Biology Lab across Spring 2024, allowing them to assess their lung function, test their saliva for nicotine or cotinine levels, and gain a personal perspective on the potential impacts of smoking and vaping.
Finally, the high rate of attendance reflects the community's acknowledgment of the event’s significance, showcasing the transformative impact of merging scientific knowledge with accessible community service.