‘Freedom From Smoking’ can help snuff the habit

Jessica Sprowl

On average it costs $100 to buy a month supply of nicotine replacement, said Dawn Kearns, a teaching fellow in the Adult Counseling, Health and Vocational Education department and a human sexuality professor at Kent State.

With only one person attending the campus’s new “Freedom From Smoking” program last night, there is definitely more room for individuals to sign up next week, said Amy Thompson, a professor in the ACHVE department.

“I can’t imagine why anyone who is thinking about quitting would not take advantage of this program,” she said.

Right now, the program can assist up to 15 students, said Scott L. Dotterer, coordinator of the Office of Health Promotion at DeWeese Health Center.

“It’s really about social support,” Kearns said. “We are not here to lecture smokers.”

For those who wish to still take part in the cessation program, the next meeting will be from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 321 of the Student Center, Thompson said.

To promote its cause further, yesterday morning the DeWeese Health Center held a press conference for the new “Freedom From Smoking” program being offered to students, faculty and staff.

The ACHVE graduate students taking part in the program spoke about the negative effects of smoking and the immediate and long-term benefits of quitting.

Kent State, which is a sub-grantee of the Portage County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, previously offered the American Cancer Society’s “Freshstart” program for students who had shown an interest in quitting, said Alexis Bavos, graduate student and program facilitator. However, based on data collected from focus groups during the Fall 2006, it appeared necessary to implement a new cessation program on the Kent campus, Blavos said.

The Office of Health Promotion is also in the process of hiring a part-time health educator who would advertise, market and facilitate the program in the future, Dotterer said.

“If smokers enroll in the ‘Freedom From Smoking’ program, they will double their chances of quitting when compared with attempts that are unassisted,” said Scott Barwidi, a graduate student in the ACHVE department and a physical education teacher at Maple Heights High School.

According to the National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey, smokers from ages 16 to 24 are more likely to make unassisted attempts to quit and less likely to be successful, Barwidi said.

About $800 million a year is spent by the tobacco industry to market tobacco in Ohio, said Kim Hauge, assistant manager of University Benefits.

“It’s quite profound the amount of smoking in Ohio,” she said. “Over 21,000 a year die from tobacco use in Ohio. Now we need to do our part.”

“Using the ‘Freedom From Smoking’ program will allow us to tailor to individual cessation needs of all students as they will have ready access to cessation support and materials from the ‘Freedom From Smoking’ 24-hour online service,” Blavos said.

For more information about the smoking cessation program, contact Blavos at (330) 607-5101.

Contact reporting public affairs reporter Jessica Sprowl at [email protected].

Within 20 minutes of smoking that last cigarette, the body begins a series of changes.

20 minutes after quitting:

• Blood pressure decreases

• Pulse rate drops

• Body temperature of hands and feet increases

8 hours after quitting:

• Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal

• Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

24 hours after quitting:

• Chances of heart attack decreases

48 hours:

• Nerve endings start regrowing

• Ability to smell and taste is enhanced

The first year after quitting

At two weeks to three months:

• Circulation improves

• Walking becomes easier

• Lung function increases

One to nine months:

• Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decreases

One year:

• Excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreases to half that of a smoker

Long term benefits

Five years:

• From five to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked

10 years:

• Risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers

• Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases

• Risk of ulcer decreases

15 years:

• Risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked

• Risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

Source: “Freedom from Smoking” speaker press release