Great American Smokeout provides students tips on how to quit smoking

heather.luebke

For 31 years, the Great American Smokeout has been encouraging smokers to give their lungs a rest.

The event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, takes place on Thursday, Nov. 15 this year and makes a national push toward smoking cessation in the United States.

NMU’s Health Promotions Office (HPO), in support of the event run by the American Cancer Society, will have information on how to quit smoking available outside the Health Promotions office for the remainder of this week.

In addition, the HPO set up an informational table about quitting smoking in the LRC on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Lenny Shible, Northern Michigan University’s health promotion specialist, has organized the event at NMU since 1999.

The intent of the Smokeout on campus is the same as the national intent: to focus attention on resources that help individuals quit smoking.

The event has been successful in past years in helping smokers to quit, Shible added, but its purpose is not to tell people that they must kick the habit.

“We’re not telling people not to smoke,” he said. “We’re not telling anyone what to do.”

Rather, the Smokeout offers information about quitting and the long-term negative effects of smoking and provides smokers with options.

During the week of the Smokeout, the Health Promotion Office offers smoking cessation kits, lists of smoke-free restaurants in town and even suckers to give smokers something to substitute for puffing on a cigarette, Shible said.

A cigarette throw-away tube was also on display at the HPO’s table.

Amanda Hawkins, a junior elementary special education major and a student assistant at the HPO said the tube was devised as a way to encourage smokers to give up their cigarettes, and also to see how many other smokers did the same.

“If a person throws a cigarette out, that’s one less cigarette someone is smoking,” she said.

At Tuesday’s campus event, the HPO also set up a ballot box to weigh student’s opinions about a possible smoke-free campus, an idea recently suggested by NMU President Les Wong.

Hawkins, who is in her third year working with the Smokeout, said the box was an opportunity for students to make their opinions heard about Northern going smoke-free.

Shible, who also posed the question of a smoke-free campus to four Physical Well-Being classes, said the results of the poll found 104 students in favor of a smoke-free campus, and 95 opposed.

When a student questioned the definition of “smoke-free” in a Physical Well-Being class, Shible said that it is possible that NMU could adopt a policy that prohibits smoking even in personal vehicles.

The results, with that definition, were 53 in favor of a smoke-free campus, 63 opposed.

Shible said some smokers quit for part of the day during the Smokeout, adding that partial quitting can sometimes lead to a long term commitment to help end their dependencies on tobacco.

Even though the Smokeout encourages all smokers to quit the habit, he added, the event is especially beneficial for someone who is truly ready to stop smoking for good.

“Stressful times are not a good time to consider a lifestyle change like quitting smoking,” he said. “There has to be time to focus on the hard work of quitting and staying [done]. We’re reinforcing that we know that quitting is not easy.”

For further information on the Great American Smokeout as well as quitting smoking, visit the HPO at http://hpo.nmu.edu.