Interview with Ailís Haney, Supervisor of EaT Heidelberg, Germany

The weather in Heidelberg is like something out of a dream – summer has made its presence very clear. Ailís Haney (21) is in the fourth semester of her medical degree and is about to sit her first state examination. In Heidelberg this means study, study, study! But despite the weight of the upcoming exams and the temptation of the beautiful weather outside, Ailís is not afraid to take on additional responsibility. A few weeks ago she established the local EAT group, with around 20 of her fellow students already involved.


Ailís, what made you want to get involved in EAT?


With the help of EAT, we, as medical students, can pass on the knowledge that we gain through our studies to the wider community. Particularly reaching out to schools is an excellent way of raising awareness about these issues. I think that in some ways, we’re even obliged to look for ways of sharing this knowledge with others – even as students we can make a positive contribution to society. I think that the damage that cigarettes cause to the body is unbelievably tragic. In Germany alone, cigarettes are among the leading causes of death, and most smokers start at an early age. What could therefore be more logical than to educate school students – young people who are in this critical phase – about smoking, and in this way contribute as much as possible towards preventing this issue.


What do you find to be the most convincing aspect of the EAT initiative?


What really spoke to me the most was the project’s very direct approach and its objectives. For us, as university students, it hasn’t been that long since we were at high school ourselves, and so we’re familiar with the current controversial topics, like issues around designated smoking areas and “e-cigarettes”. We’re more relatable to school students than teachers or doctors. The EAT is also backed by very sound scientific support and by experienced leaders, who are also always happy to offer their help.


What do you see as the next important steps in this initiative?


EAT Heidelberg wants to first of all begin the project locally in Heidelberg, establish contacts here and develop new prospects for the group. But we don’t want to limit the project just to Heidelberg – in the future we want to extend the program to our home cities as well, especially in the high schools of current EAT members. In this way, the EAT will be able to set foot outside of university towns.


Thank you for the interview!


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