Programs in place to help students, staff quit smoking

Economics senior Adam Mitchell said hasn’t been serious about quitting smoking before, but this time he quitcold turkey.

It is his 13th day without a cigarette as of Tuesday, and the withdrawals have not been easy.

“For a while I had flu-like symptoms,” Mitchell said. “I would get hot flashes and start sweating and coughing. I felt pretty bad in general.”

But for faculty, staff and students, such as Mitchell, who are trying to ditch their smoking habit, MSU officials have ways to help.

Student aid
For students hoping to quit smoking, Becky Allen, an alcohol, tobacco and other drugs health educator with Olin Health Center, said she can help.

Allen said students can contact her for one-on-one assistance with quitting, or she will refer students looking for medical assistance to a clinician.

“Once someone has developed an addiction to nicotine, it’s going to be difficult to quit,” Allen said. “The habit becomes more integrated into all aspects of your day-to-day living.”

Allen said she hopes to help students quit smoking early because it can decrease the chance of long-lasting health effects.

The National College Health Assessment surveys undergraduate and graduate students at MSU every two years about various physical and mental health factors. The 2012 survey found 83.3 percent of respondents reported not using cigarettes within the past 30 days or in their lifetime. Nearly 13 percent said they had smoked a cigarette within the past day or more. Almost 4 percent of students said they smoked cigarettes daily.

“Smoking (cigarettes) is not really popular at MSU,” Allen said. “It’s one of the reasons we don’t offer an extensive prevention program (to students) because the use is quite low.”

Employee assistance
The MSU Smoking Cessation Program is offered to university employees for a basic enrollment fee of $140 to help them quit smoking said Jonathon Novello, MSU’s Employee Assistance Program counselor.

Through the program, participants have access to Chantix or Zyban, two medications used to help smokers quit. Participants are not required to use medication, Novello said.

“Smoking is a drug,” he said. “It’s one of the most addictive drugs out there. It takes a lot of time to quit.”

The program, which has a 25-person maximum enrollment, has been running for the past five years and gives smokers trying to quit the chance to be surrounded by people facing the same challenge, Novello said.

“That’s probably the most important thing,” Novello said. “Having the support of other people has been really, really helpful. It creates a sense of camaraderie.”

After the program’s completion, MSU contacts its participants to see if they really have kicked the habit. Three months after the participant’s quit date, the program had an 85 percent success rate. After 15 months, the program had a 38 percent success rate.

Novello said this 15-month rate fairs better than the standard rate of success, which is 12 percent nationally.

The next pre-enrollment orientation date for the cessation program is 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 in Olin Health Center room 247.

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