OU offers smoking cessation resources for students
With OU poised to be tobacco-free in less than three months, students can use university and state resources to aid in quitting.
Gov. Mary Fallin signed an executive order banning smoking on government property in February. OU administrators already had drafted a similar plan, which was approved by the OU Board of Regents on Jan. 24 and March 29.
All smoking on campus will be banned, including the residence hall areas and Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, according to the regents’ agenda. The ban is attributed to the high health and financial costs of smoking, both in employee health insurance coverage and campus cleanup.
Programs throughout the state offer different approaches to quitting, Norman Regional cessation instructor Jerry Deming said.
“People are different in the way they learn and what they like to do,” he said. “It’s really about finding what works for each person.”
To help students, faculty and staff quit before the ban, OU Healthy Sooners started offering free cessation classes and smoking quit kits, health educator Nicole Pritchard said in an email.
Classes started in April, but students not yet enrolled can start in the summer, next semester or online at any time, Pritchard said. If students or faculty cannot make the group classes, they can arrange individual sessions as well.
The classes are based on the QuitSmart program, which aims to help people quit by focusing on the physical addiction to nicotine, the emotional dependence and the habit of smoking, Pritchard said.
Part of the class provides information on patches and gums, but they are not required to quit, and everyone’s therapy quitting plan is different, Pritchard said.
Those covered through the OU health insurance plan by Blue Cross Blue Shield also can buy up to $500 of nicotine replacement treatments, such as lozenges, patches and gum, Goddard spokeswoman Maggie Pool said. The free classes do not directly offer these products though, Pritchard said.
The classes provide participants a quit kit, which provides information on the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, informative brochures and things to help quitters keep their hands, mouth and minds busy while trying to quit, Pritchard said.
Norman Regional Hospital classes
Norman Regional Hospital offers classes based on the same QuitSmart program as the OU classes, Deming said. People can attend the first class, which focuses on preparing to quit, for free and decide if they want to continue.
Though the January Board of Regents agenda lists the classes as free, the cost is actually $45 for the public or $10 with a physician’s note, Deming said.
“That’s really just to get people talking to their doctor and get that reinforcement,” Deming said. “We’re not trying to make money off this program.”
Included in the cost is a handbook and CD on quitting and a fake cigarette to keep hands busy, Deming said.
Sessions start the first Tuesday of each month, according to the class website. Nicotine products are addressed in the class but not provided, Deming said.
Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline
The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service offered through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
The program sets up callers with coaches who can recommend nicotine treatment plans, spokeswoman Sjonna Paulson said. The helpline recognizes works with insurance plans and pharmacies to provide affordable costs.
From July 2008 to June 2009, about 35,000 Oklahomans tobacco-users called the line, according to its website. About 26,000 enrolled in phone classes. Of those, 15,687 received eight weeks of nicotine products, and 8,130 received two weeks of product. Two weeks of products are valued at about $40, depending on the number and dosage, Paulson said.
These therapies work by giving people nicotine through patches or gum so patients can focus on losing the emotional dependence to cigarettes before the physical one, according to the American Cancer Society.