Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to quit

Britt Johnsen

Between drags on a cigarette, junior Josh Grinolds talked about his addiction to smoking them.

“I want to stop smoking cigarettes,” Grinolds said, “rather than it leading me on a leash, taking money out of my pocket.” Grinolds, who has been addicted for six years, said he does not have a solid plan to quit.

Today is the Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to quit for at least 24 hours. Usually on the third Thursday of every November, it is a day when students such as Grinolds think about their habit.

For the day, Boynton Health Service offers information on a Coffman Union table about campus resources for quitting. However, Dana Farley, Boynton’s health promotion director, said Boynton also works to offer more options for student-smokers.

“We’re working on more research and providing more information for students,” Farley said.

According to a 2003 Boynton Health Service survey, 28.5 percent of University students have smoked within the last 30 days.

Three thousand students completed the random-sample mail-in survey.

Instead of promoting quitting immediately, however, Boynton encourages students to have a plan to quit smoking after finals week.

Farley said the time before finals is stressful and students might not be able to stick to a plan.

“We encourage and advocate for people to quit,” Farley said. “But we want to help students quit smoking when they are ready.”

Farley said students smoke for a variety of reasons: when they are stressed out, as a stimulus for studying, after a meal, while drinking coffee, socially or as a meal suppressant or replacement.

Once students figure out why they smoke, they can more easily come up with a solution that fits with their lifestyles.

However, he said, understanding and devising a plan is crucial to the quitting process; otherwise relapses are likely.

Larry An, professor in the internal medicine department, said it is imperative that students understand why they smoke and know the options for quitting successfully.

An is creating a Web site set to launch next year. The Web site will include quizzes for determining motives for smoking, personal success stories of college students and links to other resources to help students quit smoking. He is currently paying University students to help with success stories.

“It’s never just about smoking,” An said.

In addition, the site fosters ongoing research to determine which methods of quitting work best for students. Farley said education, whether from a table in Coffman or from studies, is key.

“Quitting is a process, just like preparing for your final exam,” Farley said. “The best preparation is being thoughtful.”