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Smokeout Challenges Smokers to Quit

Brooke Burger

Photo by Janelle Martin
Butt Out - Former smoker Norman Napp, custodial supervisor who has been smoke-free for 1.5 years, visited with "Ciggy Butt" on Great American Smokeout day at UAM.

   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:

  • Dizziness

  • Depression

  • Feelings of frustration, impatience and anger

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Restlessness

  • Headaches

  • Tiredness

  • Increased appetite

Photo by Janelle Martin
Helpful Crew - "Ciggy Butt," Amy Wickliffe, stands with (left to right) Caroline Selby, Julie Gentry and Terri Richardson during the Great American Smokeout.  The event took place in the University Center Green Room Nov. 15.

   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, people who use telephone counseling usually quit smoking at twice the rate as those who do not seek counseling.

   Most smokers and tobacco users know they need to quit, the problem is knowing how to quit.  According to How to Quit from, four key factors can help quitters succeed:

  • Make the decision to quit.

  • Set a quit date and choose a quit plan.

  • Deal with the withdrawal through support and counseling.

  • Stay quit (maintenance).

   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.

Prepare for Quit Day

Success After Quit Day

  1. Pick the date and mark it on the calendar.

  2. Tell friends and family about the quit day.

  3. Get rid of all the cigarettes, ashtrays or other tobacco paraphernalia in the home, car or place of work.

  4. Stock up on oral substitutes such as sugarless gum, carrot sticks or hard candy.

  5. Decide on a plan (i.e. use nicotine replacement therapy or attend a class).

  6. Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”

  7. Set up a support system.

  8. Think back to past attempts at quitting and decide what worked, what didn’t work and what helped.

  1. Do not smoke or use tobacco in any way.

  2. Keep active – walk, exercise, partake in other activities or hobbies.

  3. Drink lots of water and juices.

  4. Use nicotine replacement therapy now if preferred.

  5. Attend stop-smoking class or start following a self-help plan.

  6. Avoid situations where the urge to smoke is strong.

  7. Reduce or avoid alcohol.

  8. Think about changing the routine.  Use a different route to work or try tea instead of coffee.

    Other advice includes:

  • Write down any rationalizations to continue using tobacco.  For example, “I’ll just have one to get through this rough spot,” “Today is not a good day; I’ll quit tomorrow,” “It’s my only vice,” “You’ve got to die of something” and so on.

  • Breathe deeply.  While this may not work for chewers and dippers, smokers tend to breathe deeply when inhaling smoke.  By taking in a deep breath, the smoker may reduce the urge to smoke.

  • Delay using tobacco.  When the urge strikes, make yourself wait at least 10 minutes before giving in.  In this amount of time, you may be surprised to find you no long want the cigarette or dip.

  • Reward yourself.  Put the money usually spent on tobacco in a jar every day.  At the end of a successful week of not smoking or using tobacco, buy yourself something with the money saved.  To calculate how much you spend on smoking use the Calculator: How Much Does it Cost You?

  • Do not worry about weight gain.  Though many smokers who quit experience some weight gain, it is usually no more than 10 pounds.  One way to avoid weight gain is to supplement tobacco with exercise and healthy snacks like carrots or celery.

   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 additional help from the University staff, contact Richardson at, Selby at or Gentry at

  For more information on how to quit tobacco use or for support and counselors try:

   Have a comment? Please e-mail us.

ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 09/17/2007 08:12:03 PM —