Interview with Janina Suhre, Supervisor of EaT Bonn, Germany

Bonn. When medical student Janina Suhre (20) talks about her current projects in the sun and with an espresso, you can literally feel the euphoria. It’s infectious. A few days ago, Janina founded an EAT group in Bonn, that currently has about 15 members. Her goal is to ensure that schools are being visited by her Faculty of Medicine too, to combat the effects of tobacco advertising and peer pressure with modern teaching methods. To find out why she wouldn’t prefer to spend her quiet time in the Bonn branch of Starbucks, I spoke with her.


Janina, why do you want to be involved?


In my free time and as part of my involvement in sport, I have a lot to do with looking after children and young people, who are a little bit younger than or at the age when most people take up smoking. At this stage in their lives they are often still very easily influenced and look for role models – that could be in the form of celebrities or just older people at school. If they haven’t grown up with smoking in the family, then they will at the latest experience it with their role models. To exaggerate a little: how is a child, who constantly sees individuals they admire smoking (or even just the general public), and who is influenced by advertising campaigns and barely taught about the consequences, supposed to know how harmful tobacco consumption is to them and why they shouldn’t start smoking? Information about what risks smoking really poses to them tends to reach them for the first time when they are already addicted. That’s the point at which we want to get involved in Bonn too. We want to show children and young people a different type of role model, before they are at risk of starting smoking.’


And why do you think medical students are good role models?


‘It’s much easier for us as students to put ourselves in the position of a role model than it is for parents and teachers. Children don’t yet see us as ‘lecturing adults’, more like ‘the experienced older sibling’. That’s what convinced me about the idea behind EAT from the get-go. I want to help children, so that they don’t unknowingly fall into the ‘smoking trap’, the consequences of which they can’t imagine, and offer them support to that effect, so that they behave responsibly for their own sake and for the sake of their health thanks to the education they’ve received.’


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About the person: Janina Suhre (20) is in her fourth semester of a degree in Medicine in Bonn and is contemplating specializing in pediatrics. As a result of her academic achievements, she has been awarded a scholarship by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation.