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UW-Eau Claire Encourages
Smokers to Quit
MAILED: Nov. 9, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — To mark the American Cancer Society's 25th annual Great American Smokeout Thursday, Nov. 15, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will hold a panel discussion spotlighting the dangers of tobacco use, the challenges of quitting and what smokers can do to smoke less or quit.
The panel discussion titled "The First Steps Toward Quitting Smoking" will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in The Cabin of Davies Center.
Panelists will include cessation experts Dr. Mark Lindsay, a pulmonary disease specialist at Luther Midelfort, and Lynn Naiberg, a registered nurse in the HMR Nicotine Dependence Center at Luther Midelfort, as well as UW-Eau Claire students who are in the process of breaking the smoking habit.
The National College Health Assessment survey, completed May 2000 at UW-Eau Claire, found that nearly 40 percent of UW-Eau Claire students used tobacco at least once in the last 30 days.
"Nationally, there has been a big increase in the number of young adult smokers over the last decade - our statistic mirrors what is happening nationwide," said Laura Chellman, director of Health Services at UW-Eau Claire. "We are concerned about the rate of smoking on campus, and we have been increasing our efforts over that last few years to identify tobacco users and then to encourage and help them to quit."
The panel discussion, which will follow an informal question-and-answer format, is just one method to get the message out about the hazards of smoking and to provide helpful information to our student smokers, Chellman said, adding that brochures and other educational materials also will be available at the event.
The time to make the commitment to quit is now, said Lindsay, who has treated numerous patients, young and old, who suffer from the impact of smoking, including second-hand smoke.
"Not smoking clearly is the single most important thing we can do to prevent disease," Lindsay said, noting that smoking is of particular concern in young adults.
"People who smoke in their youth are very likely to continue using tobacco into adulthood," he said. "This is a great opportunity for smokers to take advantage of the many support groups and medications available to assist them in quitting."
The Great American Smokeout encourages people to quit lighting up for one day. Smokers don't have to go it alone, as friends are encouraged to help smokers get through the first critical day.
Naiberg, a former smoker who now works full time to help people kick the habit, knows firsthand the importance of getting help to quit smoking and maintaining a strong support system. It took her several attempts and "lots of practice" to finally quit smoking more than six years ago.
"Nicotine is as addictive as heroin and equally as difficult to quit," says Naiberg. "Students need to know that it's OK to need help to quit smoking."
Within the first 24 hours without cigarettes, Naiberg says, the body begins to heal itself. The risk of cancer and heart attack decreases, as well as coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath, she said.
Although health benefits begin within the first day, it could be up to a year before people can safely consider themselves non-smokers. According to Naiberg, the longer a person goes without a cigarette, the better chance he or she has of not returning to smoking. "After a year away from tobacco, a former smoker has a 95 percent chance of continuing success," she said.
However, former smokers need to remember that smoking is a lifelong addiction, Naiberg said, noting that it took her years to break her pack-a-day habit.
"Because cigarettes are seven to eight times more addicting than alcohol, it can take as little as one cigarette to become re-addicted," Naiberg said. "Once you quit don't be discouraged if you still have an occasional craving. Each tobacco-free day brings you one day closer to a lifetime as a non-smoker."
The event is sponsored by UW-Eau Claire Student Health Services and the Tobacco-Free Partnership of Eau Claire County.
For more information about the Great American Smokeout and the panel discussion, contact Chellman or Sarah Harvieux, university health educator, at (715) 836-4311.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Nov. 9, 2001