The University participated in the Great American Smokeout by encouraging smokers to quit for one day. Volunteers supplied smokers with survival kits and smoking information in the hopes they could kick the habit for good.
Approximatley 75 to 100 students, faculty and staff attended the Great American Smokeout Thursday, Nov. 15 in the John F. Gibson University Center Green Room from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Student Health Director Terri Richardson, Community Tobacco Program Coordinator Caroline Selby and Intramurals Director Julie Gentry planned and organized the event through the Wellness Committee.
The Smokeout occurs the third Thursday of November every year. The event went nationwide through sponsorship of the American Cancer Society in 1977 after Lynn Smith, publisher of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, initiated the concept with Don’t Smoke Day or D-Day. Approximately 15 UAMers pledge to quit smoking for the celebration.
During the Smokeout, Selby provided three-dimensional displays of healthy lungs compared to unhealthy lungs damaged by tobacco and nicotine use. Some students were shocked to see the damage they are doing to their lungs.
According to Cancer Facts and Figures of 2007, 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to smoking. In addition, an estimated 213,380 new cancer cases will occur in the United States, of which approximately 160,390 will die.
Currently, an estimated 45 million U.S. adults smoke tobacco, and lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women. However, those who quit before they turn 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half.
According to a report released in November 2005 by the Arkansas Cancer Coalition, lung cancer rates No. 1 on the overall top five cancers from 1998-2002 in Drew County. Approximately 48 men and 22 women died of lung cancer during that span. In the surrounding counties including Cleveland, Desha, Ashley, Lincoln, Chicot and Bradley, lung cancer also tops at No. 1 of the overall top five cancers.
With the obvious risk factors, some may wonder why people continue to smoke. However, the process to quit using tobacco in any form, whether chewing, dipping or smoking, can prove an arduous task for the user. According to Gentry, many smokers who stopped by the table said they know the risks, but still have a hard time quitting.
Mark Twain once said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.”
This is true for many smokers, chewers and dippers. Most people who attempt quitting do not succeed the first time. It takes several attempts to quit before the user can successfully kick the habit. Part of the reason tobacco users struggle to quit because nicotine is a drug just as addictive as cocaine or heroine.
Nicotine, a drug found in tobacco, affects many parts of the body including the heart, blood vessels, hormonal system, metabolism and the brain. As a user smokes, chews or dips tobacco overtime, he or she will develop a tolerance to the drug, which leads to increased usage.
In addition, nicotine causes physical and psychological dependence, which makes the task of quitting harder. When a tobacco user cuts back, he or she will go through both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms usually start a few hours after the last cigarette, depending on how heavy the person smokes. The symptoms can last for a few days to several weeks, and include:
Psychological withdrawals pose the largest obstacle to those trying to quit. Those who have smoked for several years begin to link smoking with other activities, such as driving, drinking, waking up, watching TV, reading or whatever fits into the daily schedule of the individual.
For smokers attempting to quit for one day Nov. 15, Richardson, Gentry and Selby provided them with Survival Packs. The packs included gum, candy, mints and suckers to help deal with the physical cravings. They also provided sugar-free packs.
The Survival Packs also contained literature on helpful ways to quit and advice. During the Great American Smokeout, smokers also received ways to deal with the psychological withdrawal.
Dealing with the physical withdrawal symptoms, mixed with the psychological withdrawals can make a smoker return to the habit within a few days of trying to quit. Therefore, support and help are vital to a smoker’s success in quitting.
Several programs are available to help smokers and other tobacco users quit. During the Great American Smokeout, the University provided smokers with access to the Fax-Back Referral System and the Stamp Out Smoking Quitline, which provide tobacco users access to a counselor to help get through the task of quitting. The program lasts for about two to three months.
The counselor provides the tobacco user with information and effective methods of quitting. The program also allows for some to receive free nicotine patches to help fight the physical cravings. According to Cancer.org, people who use telephone counseling usually quit smoking at twice the rate as those who do not seek counseling.
Once a tobacco user makes the decision to quit, the next steps will help ensure he or she has a successful run. After making the decision, the quitter needs to pick a specific quit date and stick to it. While some prefer to quit cold turkey, many may benefit from a plan of action.
Many choose to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke each day, or the amount of tobacco they dip or chew. This can include limiting the amount to a certain number a week or rationing the amount each day. To figure out how many cigarettes you smoke during a given time, use the Calculator: How Many Cigarettes is That?
According to the site, successful quitting depends on planning and commitment. The site offers tips on how to prepare for the quit day and what to do after the quit day.
Other advice includes:
To date, more than 46 million Americans quit smoking for good. Gentry said, they would love it if everyone in the UAM community was able to quit, because they care for the health and lives of the students, faculty and staff.
"Just because the Great American Smokeout is over, doesn't mean (you) can't quit," Gentry said. "If anyone wants to quit, we have helpful information on quitting smoking and chewing tobacco."
For more information on how to quit tobacco use or for support and counselors try:
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ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 09/17/2007 08:12:03 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_11/smoke.htm