Class Helps TU Smokers Quit

by Erin Brock
Staff

Transylvania students who wish to stop smoking have the opportunity to participate in a program called Control Your Future.

The Control Your Future smoking cessation class had its first meeting yesterday and will meet every other week for the next 10 weeks in different areas around Transy’s campus.

The class is offered free of charge to anyone in the Transy community and is sponsored by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department.

It will be taught by Transylvania alumnus Drew Beckett, who spearheaded the effort to create this class for the Transy community. Beckett is the community education team leader at the LFCHD.

“The idea spawned from my experience teaching adult smoking cessation classes and realizing that the health community was really ‘missing the boat’ when it came to educating college students about tobacco use,” Beckett said.

Beckett said that he wrote the grant to receive the money to start this project, did all of the research for the program, met with members of the Transy staff to work out the details and then put the entire program together.

“The help I have received from other staff members at the health department and from Transylvania staff and faculty has been amazing to make this program happen,” Beckett said.

Control Your Future is a program designed especially for Transy’s campus.

“Our main focus overall is to be a resource for Transy college students who either want education about smoking (or) smokeless tobacco use, or want to become a nonsmoker,” LFCHD employee Allison Evans said.

Evans will be working alongside Beckett to teach the class.

The Control Your Future class will differ from any class currently offered at the LFCHD. The classes will be held in stressful environments that make people want to pick up a cigarette, and participants will be taught how to cope in real-life situations.

“Deciding to stop tobacco use is difficult and requires a lot of willpower. College students cannot avoid these triggers that encourage tobacco use such as stress, weight gain and alcohol consumption, so they must learn to deal with them in a more constructive manner,” Beckett said.

At each meeting there will be free food and other incentives for participation, as well as free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as gum, lozenges and patches. The program runs for 10 weeks in order to ensure that the NRT products are working properly.

“Most habits – good and bad – are formed in that time, so 10 to 12 weeks is a good amount of time for the program,” said Ashley Hinton-Moncer, Transy’s director of wellness and fitness.

Hinton-Moncer has worked with Beckett on implementing the class at Transy, but she will have no involvement in teaching the classes.

The class will be strongly interaction-based.

“This program will be student-driven,” said Beckett. “The people in the program will drive discussion and make suggestions to each other and share successes and failures.”

The Control Your Future program has been made possible by a $10,000 grant awarded to Transy by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The Kentucky Department for Public Health tobacco program takes applications every year for a ‘local grants’ project from the CDC. Like every grant application it comes with certain stipulations and rules you must follow to obtain funding,” Beckett said.

The money can be used for smoking education such as Control Your Future, as well as signage if a smoking ban does go into effect sometime in the future. However, this money must be spent by June 30, 2010.

“The remaining money will be used toward printing supplies for the class, food (and) incentives for participants and toward the purchase of tobacco-free signage for the Transylvania campus if they decide to move in that direction,” Beckett said.

However, if any students have ideas about potential smoking education, prevention or cessation programs, they are encouraged to voice them.

“There is lots of money left to use on this program, and we welcome any ideas on programs for smoking cessation,” Hinton-Moncer said.

Both Beckett and Hinton-Moncer have high hopes for the Control Your Future program.

“I would love to see this program succeed, but the question is how we can make it continue since we won’t always have $10,000 sitting around. But if we see it’s working, there are probably other grants available,” Hinton-Moncer said.

“This program is the pilot study – if it works we’ll keep it going and hopefully expand the program to other campuses. If it doesn’t work, we’ll try to correct the errors and come up with a better program,” said Beckett. “Currently, nothing is being done to help college students stop tobacco use and I hope this is the program that will achieve that goal.”

For more information about the Control Your Futures class or to attend the next meeting on Wed., March 10, call Allison Evans at 859-288-2327 to sign up for the class.

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