Great American Smokeout Day aims to help students quit smoking

Brenna Parker

Thursday is Great American Smokeout Day, which is a nationwide event created by the American Cancer Society as a way to encourage smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or plan in advance to quit.

The Kent State Office of Health Promotions in University Health Services is hosting an outreach resource table with educational materials and refreshments on the second floor mezzanine in the Kent Student Center. Interns within the Office of Health Promotions will present “Tobacco: Are you contemplating quitting smoking?” in the Kent Student Center room 318 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Scott Dotterer, Office of Health Promotions coordinator, said that the day makes an impact for students who are in the process of quitting or thinking about quitting smoking.

“You need to look at the longevity issue,” Dotterer said. “If someone has high blood pressure or diabetes, if it is not kept in control, that can have an impact overtime on your health.”

According to the American Cancer Society, within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.

Andrew Frye, a senior communications studies major and practicum student in the Office of Health Promotion, said Kent State students who are looking to quit smoking or using tobacco should look into their tobacco cessation program.

“The program that is used is directly from the American Lung Association,” Frye said. “If someone is wanting to quit there are many other resources that are readily available.”

The six-week program is free to students and tackles many of the challenges faced by students as they start to quit smoking. The first part of the program is looking at the preparation to quit, the actual quit day and the last set of sessions focus on the maintenance stage.

“Nicotine is an extremely powerful drug and quitting smoking does involve a lot,” Dotterer said. “Not only does somebody have to address the physical addiction of trying to quit, but then it’s the habitual aspect of it as well and the social aspect.”

The American College Health Association and National College Health spring 2014 assessment found that 66.7 percent of Kent State students have never smoked cigarettes and 19.2 percent admitted to once smoking a cigarette, but not in the past 30 days.

Dotterer said some smokers use nicotine replacement products or chemical aids from physicians to help prepare them for the physical change in smoking. Using these products allows smokers to practice being a non-smoker.

“It takes practice to be a smoker, but it takes practice to be a non-smoker,” Dotterer said. “I’ve had people go through the program and say ‘I smoke when I am happy, sad, jump in the car, after a good meal’ and on and on. A lot of it is connected to emotions and habit. They are used to doing things by a certain routine, some of it is just habit.”

Dotterer said electronic cigarettes and vape pipes should not be treated as an aid to quit smoking. The cessation program addresses how students can work through behavior changes and build confidence in making these changes.

“The goal should be to get nicotine free,” Dotterer said. “When people are switching to vaping there are still chemicals that are in it. There has not been a long-term studies and you still have a scenario where someone is addicted to a drug.”

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved these products as an aid to quit smoking. Dotterer said for some students the struggle can just recognizing the long-term health effects of smoking and encourages students to recognize the benefits of quitting.

“Sometimes students may feel good or feel like or may not be susceptible,” Dotterer said. “There may be a false sense of security and may feel fine, but the reality is especially with tobacco, it does catch up. The question you need to ask is ‘what quality of life am I looking at?’”

Brenna Parker is the health reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].