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200+ University students, staff and faculty nix tobacco in November

'Quit and Win' offers quitters support, motivation

November 1, 2013

Starting today, more than 200 University of Minnesota Twin Cities students, staff and faculty who consider themselves regular tobacco users have pledged to quit for the entire month of November. Those who succeed are vying for one of three grand prizes—$2,000, $1,000 or $500 in Amazon gift cards.

Sponsored by the University’s Boynton Health Service, 'Quit and Win' is an incentive-based cessation program that not only offers prizes, but free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), counseling, resources and support to stay tobacco free.

"Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States," said Ferdinand Schlapper, Boynton’s director and chief health officer. "There is no safe level of usage for a tobacco product."

Additionally, there is a link between tobacco use and student success.

"Smokers tend to have lower GPAs," says David Golden, Boynton’s director of public health and communications. "One of the most important decisions you can make now is to stop smoking. That’s why we’re focusing our efforts to reduce tobacco use across campus."

For some people smoking just one or two cigarettes can lead to addiction, said Boynton’s Director of Research Dr. Katherine Lust.

"That’s how addictive tobacco is," she noted. "'Quit and Win' provides an opportunity for people to make a quit attempt. And, the more quit attempts you make, the likelihood increases you’ll stay quit."

Participants must also designate a tobacco-free friend to help them stay on track.

"For some people having that social support is very important, so when they feel like they want to start using they can lean on somebody for help," Lust added.

Campus tobacco stats
According to Boynton’s 2013 College Student Health Survey, 53 percent of University students report exposure to second-hand smoke on campus, and 14.9 percent of students report using tobacco in the past 30 days—down from 22 percent in 2005.  

In 1998, 53.3 percent of first-year students were current tobacco users. Now that percentage is 13.2 percent.

Several factors have influenced the decrease in overall tobacco usage, according to Golden: the increased price of tobacco; health education; and the increase in smoke-free policies.

"Restrictive policies that limit where people can smoke have probably made the biggest impact on behavior change by changing the social norms around smoking," he adds. "In addition to changing the cultural norm, you are protecting people from the harms of second-hand smoke and reducing the convenience for a quick smoke, which lowers consumption rates."

The 2013 survey also indicates 18–24 year olds report the highest tobacco-use rates—with 20 percent of males using tobacco in the past 30 days, compared to 11.5 percent of females. In addition, 65 percent of 30-day tobacco users have tried to quit—making four attempts on average in the past year.

"What that says to me is people do want to quit," Lust said.

Immediate benefits of quitting
Within 20 minutes of quitting tobacco, blood pressure lowers. After 12 hours, carbon monoxide levels in the blood return to normal. And in just one day, the risk of heart attack goes down.

"Tobacco cigarettes are engineered to be the most effective delivery device of nicotine to the brain," says ThanhVan Vu, tobacco cessation counselor. "NRT can increase quit rates by up to 50 percent."

'Quit and Win' was first developed by the University’s Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHRP) in the early 1980s and has been introduced in more than 80 countries by the World Health Organization.

About Boynton Health Service
Boynton Health Service (www.bhs.umn.edu) is a multi-disciplinary, ambulatory care clinic with locations on the East Bank and St. Paul campuses of the University of Minnesota and serves students, staff, and faculty.

Providing approximately 100,000 visits per year, Boynton Health Service helps to keep the University community healthy and successful in their academics, work, and personal lives. Patients can access primary, eye, and dental care; mental health services; physical therapy; nutrition consultation; massage therapy; travel consultations and immunizations; and women’s health care.

In addition, Boynton Health Service serves as a public health service providing outreach programs for health promotion, direct services, mass immunization clinics for influenza, and employee wellness programs. According to patient satisfaction surveys, 94 percent of patients surveyed report they would recommend the provider they saw to someone else and they rated their overall care by their provider as a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10.

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