UAB helps quitters hang tough

By on June 30, 2011

The Resource Center is conducting a free, four-week summer session in July for UAB employees who wish to quit smoking.  
It will be held every month in a different location.  The meetings are weekly, covering “Reasons to Quit Smoking”, “Coping with the Urge to Smoke”, “Long-term Benefits of Quitting Smoking” and “Staying Quit”.
According to the Office of Applied Studies, “one study found that the four most common reasons that college students gave for their smoking were stress, less supervision, having more free time and the number of their friends who smoke.”
Alicia Adams, a counselor in the program, states that the key to success in kicking the habit is “to have a plan and to be able to recognize triggers [that would cause one to smoke].”
Yogi Patel, a sophomore computer science major, asserts that “the main reason college students smoke is to relieve stress.  There are many other healthier ways to deal with stress than to smoke.”
The Beat the Pack program provides information on the subject of stress. “Smoking releases chemicals in the brain that help lower anxiety for a short time.
“But smoking does great harm to your body.  Kicking the habit is one of the best things you can do for your body.”  Adams claims that coping with stress “is up to the individual.
However, students need to educate themselves before taking that step [to start smoking] because it is extremely difficult to quit.”
Many students support the idea of a smoke-free campus and environment.
“As a freshman, leaving from Blazer Hall going to class, we had to walk through the breezeway, which put me and countless other nonsmokers in the direct path of the stifling cigarette smoke,” says student orientation leader and sophomore biology major, Sope Oguntuyo.
“The designated smoking areas should be a little further from the residential halls, especially not directly in front of the freshmen halls. UAB should set up informative sessions about smoking for students,” he added.
What kinds of counseling options are available for students who want to quit?  UAB Wellness Center coordinator, Lauren Whitt, states that she is “more than happy to allow students to attend these sessions.
They would need to fill out the same documentation as the employees do, and the form is listed online on the Wellness Center page.”
“I definitely think it is a good idea that the Resource Center is taking steps to help students quite smoking.
Not only does it lead to a healthier environment on campus, but it can literally save students’ lives,” says Olu Ogunbi, a junior marketing major and representative of UAB’s School Of Business.
“As a student leader, I want what is best for my constituents as a whole.
By having students remain smoke free, it ensures that those students who are nonsmokers will not pick up second hand smoke, which in it of itself can threaten someone’s health,” Ogunbi adds.
Many UAB students are well-informed of the hazards of tobacco use.  Shivani Patel, freshman biology major, says, “[Smoking] is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States; it can cause heart disease and lung cancer.
“Also, contain the chemical nicotine, cigarettes are very addictive, which in the long run becomes not only an unhealthy habit, but also very expensive.”  Some argue that UAB does not need these programs because college students are normally well aware of the risks of smoking.
People often think that current tobacco users cannot be swayed to quit.
But this shouldn’t prevent the university from attempting to preserve the wellness of its students.
Whitt states, “We know it is difficult to quit smoking.
That is why we chose to offer the Beat the Pack program free of charge to all of our employees and their family members. It gives you stop-smoking information and a chance to get support from others.
I hope this program helps make it easier for members of our UAB family to quit smoking cigarettes and make a decision that can save their lives.”

Amber Ritchie
Staff Writer
ambermr@uab.edu

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