Free programs can help students kick smoking habit

Amanda Hayes

Smoking tobacco is not only expensive but dangerous, and according to the Kent State Office of Health Promotion, most smokers have thought about quitting at some point.

Thanks to a grant from the Portage County Tobacco Prevention Coalition and the Ohio Tobacco Prevention Foundation, University Health Services is offering free six-week smoking cessation programs throughout the semester.

The next group program will have its first meeting today from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The group programs meet weekly at the DeWeese Health Center on campus. The programs being offered are the Mayo Clinic’s “Path to a Smoke-free Future” and the American Lung Association’s “Freedom from Smoking” program.

Health Services will offer two months of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy in conjunction with the group programs. The Health Center will offer several types of Nicotine Replacement Aids, including chewing gum, patches, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalers.

The free program also covers two months of prescription smoking aids Zyban or Chantix. According to the drug’s Web site, Chantix is a new, nicotine-free prescription that has been proven to help 44 percent of smokers quit within 12 weeks.

Mary Reeves, the director of University Health Services, said she wants the board to extend the prescription’s coverage to three months because there is such a high success rate. Reeves said she also plans to push for faculty and staff to be covered for the program by the university’s work benefits.

Reeves said she thinks because quitting smoking is one of the most healthful things people can do, any program or drug that helps smokers quit should be available to everyone on and off campus.

The University Health Services Office of Health Promotion Web site lists a schedule of the smoking cessation program dates, as well as information on the programs, treatment options and benefits of going tobacco-free.

Among the Web site’s listed health benefits are improved blood pressure and heart rate just 20 minutes after a smoker quits. Other health benefits include improved circulation, increased lung function and a 50 percent reduced chance of heart attack and coronary heart disease.

The Mayo Clinic and American Lung Association’s programs are available outside of the university program but are only free through the Kent State Health Center. Reeves said she thinks the program packets cost about $25 from the organizations. Students going through the cessation program alone will also miss out on the university support groups offer.

Scott Dotterer, coordinator of the Office of Health Promotion, said the program is very flexible and different group times and meeting places can be arranged upon request.

Students or faculty interested in the Office of Health Promotion’s smoking cessation programs should contact Sharon Briggs at 330-672-8267 or [email protected].

Contact student health reporter Amanda Hayes at [email protected].