Health organization collaborates with students to help them quit smoking


Photo Credit:chris@APL

Dylan HavilandGeneral Assignment Reporter 

In Engleman Hall, a Southern Connecticut State University group was deep into discussion on their experiences and history with tobacco products.  Working together in a supportive group the circle of university students told their perspective on how they wanted to quit tobacco, in addition to taking in the advice of others.

The Tobacco Cessation Program, directed by CommuniCare a non-profit behavioral health organization, is collaborating with Southern Connecticut State University to bring a personal chance to quit tobacco use such as smoking. The program provides an opportunity for small groups to work together with program members to quit their addiction.

In today’s communities and campuses smoking is still a habit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 42.1 million people smoke in the U.S. alone.

“It’s an eight week program,” said John O’Rourke, the program coordinator from CommuniCare, heading the Tobacco Cessation Program.  “What we do in enrollment is we help people to learn about their tobacco use, start to understand a little bit about why they smoke and help to form a plan to quit.”

Understanding their own tobacco addiction in everyday life is a major priority for O’Rourke in the program.

“If it’s quitting, it’s one thing we can help them to form a quit plan and give them access to tobacco treatment medications like nicotine replacement therapies, the nicotine patch and nicotine gum.”

O’Rourke said while, “the physical effects of nicotine leave the body in three days” he mentioned a person quitting can be made uncomfortable when completing tasks they normally smoked through such as drinking coffee or driving their car, and may feel the urge to smoke.

“So we help them learn about those things and be able to deal with those things without smoking,” said O’Rourke.

Katie Johnstone, senior at SCSU, graphic design major and smoker of five years, described her uncomfortable experience when trying to quit her cigarette habit.

Her biggest challenge towards quitting being, “getting out of the habit because I like wake up smoke, smoke in-between class, smoke before class, after class, right before bed so it’s a habit that I need to get out of.”

The Tobacco Cessation Program Specialist William Brennan, an alumni from Southern, works towards face to face interactions with adults trying quit or needing information on the subject.

Brennan aims on discussing the benefits of quitting tobacco products as opposed to the negative aspect and consequences of smoking.  He believed hearing positive effects can trigger a response from audiences.

“They don’t seem to want to hear the old well it’s bad for you, everybody knows it’s bad for you,” said Brennan. “But what are the benefits of [quitting tobacco] so when I get to say you save all this money and these kind of health consequences can be reversed that seems to get some interest.”

In addition, the Tobacco Cessation Program may play a part in Southern Connecticut’s ongoing decision towards making the campus smoke-free, were smoking on campus may become an issue if banned.

The universities debate over a smoke free environment could mean a change in habit for students who smoke on campus.

“It’s a tough addiction and we understand that as we think about tobacco free environments everywhere it’s something you can’t just expect people to change immediately it takes time,” said Diane Morgenthaler, student health and wellness director at Southern. “Regardless of where we go with other initiatives we still want to help people to quit.”

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