As the Wilkes University community adopts a new smoking policy, measures have been taken to give students the opportunity to quit smoking, right from campus health services.
Susan Biskup, Campus Counselor in Health and Wellness Services located in Passan Hall, completed the Tobacco Dependency Program at Rutgers University this past summer and has since become a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist.
Tobacco Cessation Treatment has been available at some universities but will now be a service offered at Wilkes, according to Biskup.
“Treatment interventions for students include: education, assistance with setting a quit date, and development of a plan through counseling, individual and group, sessions,” explained Biskup. “Additionally, nicotine replacement therapy can be a part of treatment through Health and Wellness Services.”
Along with the intervention sessions for students, faculty can contact Human Resources and Health and Wellness Services to find services available through University health insurance plans.
“There is also web-based support and telephone support by calling your state Free Quitline at 1-800-quit-now (1-800-784-8669),” Biskup added. “This free Quitline offers smoking cessation services 24 hours per day/7 days per week.”
Quitline services include up to five coaching sessions by phone, unlimited calls to the Free Quitline as needed, educational materials on quitting tobacco use and free Nicotine Replacement Therapy, up to eight weeks of patches for qualified callers.
“The most beneficial aspect of tobacco cessation treatment is that the service provides students who would like to quit smoking the counseling support and treatment necessary to take the first step. Since tobacco dependence is a chronic disease, a person will be more likely to have a successful quit attempt with treatment.”
Biskup explains that helping an individual quit smoking is more than just handling addiction, but building up that person’s self-esteem.
“Smoking rates in individuals with a mental illness or addiction are at least double that of the general population,” she said. “We know that most smokers want to quit and often feel ostracized due to their smoking behavior. In supporting a person through quitting, we are also promoting positive self-image.”
Biskup also explained that in a youth centered culture, students may be motivated to quit smoking because of the physical effects it leaves on the body.
“The reality is that there is a 50% chance that a person who continues to smoke will die prematurely from smoking,” Biskup said.
Biskup explained that smoking also ages people prematurely, changing the skin, teeth, and hair as well as affecting fertility. It can also compromise the strength of the heart, lungs, and bones.
Not smoking for minutes can have positive changes to the body too, according to Biskup.
“After 20 minutes of not smoking your blood pressure and pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet have returned to normal. After 48 hours, damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal,” Biskup said. “After one year, your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker. After ten years, your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker.”
If a student would like to receive tobacco cessation counseling and/or other therapies, they can contact Health and Wellness Services to schedule an appointment by calling (570)408-4730.