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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
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Quitting kits could help students stop smoking

Today is the annual Great American Smokeout, and a campus and community effort will help AU students stamp out their cigarettes.

The Wellness and Counseling Center is trying to help students break the habit, and Sibley Hospital is offering free smoking cessation courses. The Center will also test carbon monoxide levels for free. Quitting kits with gum, mints and hints to cease smoking will be handed out from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Mary Graydon Center.

"The reasons to quit smoking are so extensive because smoking is so bad for you," said Kathy Haldeman, coordinator of health promotion. "Smoking causes cancer, heart attacks, wrinkles ... You name it, smoking is bad. Before it kills you it will make you miserable. Cigarettes will eventually take control of your life."

A George Washington University professor has also created a quit kit marketed specifically for college students, called the "X-Pack." Among the tools to help quit are gum, cinnamon toothpicks and preoccupation putty. A 38-page guide is also included, which teaches about the X-Pack plan and gives tips on how to set a quit date and deal with cravings.

Dr. Lorien Abroms, assistant professor at GW's School of Public Health, said college students helped inspire her to design the X-Pack for 18- to 22-year-olds who want to quit smoking.

"X-Pack is one of the very few smoking cessation tools out there for college students," Abroms said. "There is a lot out there for adults and teens, but not a lot has been developed for 18- to 24-year-olds."

College students are the most likely to be smoking and also the most likely to make an attempt at quitting, according to Abroms.

Seventy percent of young adults who smoke express a desire to quit, according to Population Services International, a local nonprofit organization that helped develop the X-Pack.

"We've looked at college students and saw how their clothes and music is marketed to them," said Abroms. "Why not something to help with something as important as smoking cessation?"

One of Abroms' colleagues, Alexander Lowell of PSI, said the X-Pack is an individualized method of quitting. Lowell said that research found many students don't want group counseling or to call a hotline.

"They want a self-help thing, and this is intended to walk them through a plan to quit," said Lowell.

X-Pack is available online for $6. Abrams said the X-Pack is being bought by colleges and universities across the country, but did not know when or if AU would buy it at the Counseling and Wellness Centers.

In partnership with Sibley Hospital, located a mile from AU's campus on Nebraska Avenue, students can participate in the annual free smoking cessation classes in January.

Four one-hour courses will be offered once a week in the late afternoon for students to meet in a group setting.

Dorothy Hunt, who is in charge of registration for the Sibley program, said it is based on the success of the FRESHSTART course sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Hunt said she is an ex-smoker and could not quit until she went in a group setting like Sibley.

"It's one of the hardest things I've ever done," Hunt said. "It finally worked for me when I was in a group setting with help from people as addicted as I was. Some who come are off smoking forever when they leave, others are still working. You have to be committed for anything like this."

For more information on the Great American Smokeout, students can visit Students can also visit the AU Counseling Center Web site, which has links to information on the effects of smoking, quitting tools and how to set up an individual appointment with a professional at the center to set a quit plan.

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