Lighting up the issue

Brittany Moseley

Programs offer help to stop smoking

If Issue 5 passes next Tuesday, smoking will be banned in all public places in Ohio. PHOTO COURTESY OF iStockphoto

Credit: John Proppe

For non-smokers, being surrounded by cigarette smoke isn’t pleasant, but for Mikenna Stephenson, secondhand smoke really does hurt.

“I start to choke, and I can’t breathe. It’s pretty painful,” said Stephenson, a junior communications major.

She has cystic fibrosis, and it isn’t good for her to be around cigarette smoke.

Even though secondhand smoke is bad for her, she doesn’t like asking people to not smoke.

“I’m kind of embarrassed to ask people to not smoke around me,” Stephenson said. “I don’t want to be the bad guy.”

She may not have to be the bad guy if Issue 5 passes next week, which would ban smoking in all public places in Ohio.

However, there are groups out that are hoping to fight smoking without the politics.

Mark Mitchell is the tobacco treatment specialist for the Northeast Ohio region of the American Lung Association. He facilitates “Freedom From Smoking,” a group clinic smoking cessation program in Independence.

“The program builds up to a ‘quit day’ preparing the smokers by helping to increase their motivation, confidence and readiness to quit,” Mitchell said. “After the ‘quit day’ the program focuses on relapse prevention and positive lifestyle changes.”

Mitchell said it takes people, on average, seven to eight times to quit smoking, because nicotine is so addicting and such a hard habit to break.

The program also uses nicotine replacement drugs. Although they offer prescription pills, Mitchell said most people choose the patches and gum.

“Based on the clinics I’ve worked at, most people use patches and gum because they’re easier and over-the-counter,” Mitchell said.

Scott Dotterer, coordinator of the Office of Health Promotion at the DeWeese Health Center, said the Health Promotion Office may also be offering the “Freedom from Smoking” program in January if grants are approved.

Currently, the American Cancer Society’s program called “Fresh Start” is being used at Kent State. Dotterer said students should visit the DeWeese Health Center for more information.

“Students have options,” he said. “If anyone is interested in quitting, they can come to us.”

Smoking is now a big issue to everyone, whether they smoke or not, Simpkins said.

“The only way to protect people from secondhand smoke is to ask smokers to step outside for a few minutes, so their choices don’t hurt others,” Simpkins said.

This may surprise some people, but Stephenson doesn’t see the issue as black-and-white as most do.

“I have a lot of friends who smoke, and I want them to be happy too, so it’s a battle,” she said. “But they are courteous and don’t smoke around me.”

Stephenson believes people know about smoking and its dangers; now it’s just based on personal decisions.

“I think we all know about the dangers of smoking, but the choice is up to us,” she said.

As for now, she will continue to raise money for cystic fibrosis, and she hopes that more people will make the decision not to smoke.

Contact features correspondent Brittany Moseley at [email protected].


• 61 percent of students are non-smokers.

• 7 percent are experimental smokers (smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and none in past 30 days).

• 3 percent are former smokers.

• 11 percent are occasional smokers.

• 9 percent are daily smokers (not trying to quit).

• 9 percent are daily smokers (trying to quit).

Alcohol and Drug Survey of Kent State University Undergraduates, June 2004