Interview with Eric Müller and Isabelle Leckinger, Supervisors of EaT Innsbruck, Austria

Innsbruck, Austria – a country of masterful architecture, traditional coffeehouse culture, but unfortunately also a country with a very high quota of smokers. Eric Müller and Isabelle Leckinger are both medical students who want to help change the circumstances, by getting school students between 10 and 15 years of age learning from uni students, on eye level, in a more relatable way. In order to find out more about the current situation in Austria, I interviewed both of them about their involvement and perspectives regarding EAT.


Eric, Isabelle, what is your role in EAT?


“We’re both project coordinators for EAT in Innsbruck and we predominantly manage the organization of school visits and related aspects. Eric is also involved in extending the program further in Austria.”


In which unis in Austria does the project currently operate?


“At the moment, we only have one group in Innsbruck. From the autumn of 2014, the project will also be established in Vienna, where a team already got together just a few weeks ago.”


How is the Project integrated into the Austrian Medical Students’ Association, AMSA?


“The project is running as part of AMSA, under the area of Public Health. Alongside other prevention-orientated projects like “Grips statt Chips” (Brains not Chips) and “Achtung Liebe” (Look out Love), although these have been running for a lot longer and target a much broader population.”


How many school students have been looked after so far?


“In the last school year, just over 100 students were treated and looked after. We’re continuously working on expanding the project even further, which, due to the high percentage of smokers in Austria, is actually met with a lot of resistance. Another thing is that some students already have their own or other projects, and so here we really have to work on persuading and convincing them of our program.”


What motivates you both personally to take part in this project?


“We both strongly believe in the importance of prevention work against issues like these, and so we’re very much involved in EAT. It’s also really nice to be able to do something practical alongside study. Especially since we still have to do further work within AMSA.”


What are your plans for the EAT group in Austria?

“We definitely want to reach out to more school students, and establish the program for the long term. Other than that, there have also been efforts to start an EAT group in Graz. Next year we’re definitely bringing back our “Action Day” for World No Tobacco Day, which takes place in the city and was a huge success last time we ran it. We reached out to by far the largest amount of people yet, educating them about the topic of tobacco consumption, really bringing the issue to public attention.”


About Isabelle and Eric: Isabelle is currently in her 8th semester of medicine. Eric is studying pedagogy and psychotherapy, and is presently in his 6th semester. Both Isabelle and Eric play a lot of sport, in summer and in winter; “After all, we live in Innsbruck, the sporting capital”, says Eric with a wink. They also spend a lot of time with friends and enjoy travelling.


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