Smokeout aims to reduce tobacco use

by Marina Agapakis | 11/17/06 6:00am

As part of Thursday's nationwide Great American Smokeout, the Alcohol and Other Drug Education program at Dartmouth organized a four-hour long event to educate students about the resources available on campus to help students quit smoking.

The Great American Smokeout is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the different ways to quit smoking and challenges smokers to quit smoking for one day.

"The Great American Smokeout is a great instrument for all people interested in tobacco control," former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop '37 said. "If smokers can quit for one day, it shows them that maybe they can for two, and then maybe for three and so on."

The event was set in the style of informal office hours so students could stop by, pick up literature and ask questions about smoking.

Eight students that attended Thursday's informational event committed themselves to quit smoking, event organizers said, and between 15 and 20 students came to the event to support their friends or obtain information for friends.

According to Dick's House physician Ann Bracken, a survey of a random sample of Dartmouth undergraduates in spring 2005 revealed that approximately 14.2 percent of students had used cigarettes, but not in the 30 days prior to the survey. 8.9 percent of students reported cigarettes usage during one to nine days of the previous month and 2.5 percent reported cigarette use between 10 and 29 days of the previous 30 days. Approximately 2.1 percent of students reported cigarette use on each of the 30 days prior to the survey.

Some students, as well as Brian Bowden, the coordinator of the Alcohol and Other Drug Education Programs at Dartmouth and one of the main organizers of Thursday's event, said that Dartmouth has a lower rate of tobacco use in comparison to other similar colleges.

"From my experience, most people here don't smoke, and don't condone smoking either," said Peter Seel '08, who started smoking on and off at the age of 16.

Bowden said that most of the smoking at Dartmouth occurs at parties and that many smokers try to quit because they are aware of smoking's adverse health effects.

"For smokers, quitting is always in the background," Seel said. "I quit for a month one summer and then started back up again."

Enough social pressures exist to make quitting attractive, according to Bowden.

"Unlike alcohol where many students have no intention or cultural influence to push them to give up drinking, most students who smoke say they plan on quitting if you ask them," he said.

In addition to counseling and behavioral cessation therapies, Dick's House currently offers nicotine replacement therapy such as nicotine patches and gum to students at prices that are lower than retail levels.

Beginning next year, nicotine replacement therapies will be free for students on the Dartmouth Student Group Health Plan, Bowden said.

Koop said that one of his goals at Dartmouth and around the world is to get people to stop smoking.

"Any dose of tobacco is an overdose because there there's nobody that benefits by tobacco," he said, stressing that one billion people are projected to die in this century because of tobacco use.

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