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Smoking cessation program underutilized

By Amanda MillerSPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE

Students trying to stop smoking may not be taking advantage of a free service on campus.

Maureen Houck, director of the Health and Wellness Center, pointed out that though there are services at the center not being used, they still see over 6,000 visitors per year. With numbers of about 20-40 patients a day, this leaves a question: What services are students not taking advantage of?

Most often, students visit the Wellness Center when they are ill or in need of urgent care. However, there are many services offered that student’s don’t take advantage of. One these is is the smoking cessation program.

The smoking cessation program is a collaboration between the Health and Wellness Center and Student Counseling Services. Quitting an addiction requires patients to focus on their mind and body. Addictions require work to nix, and the services offered by both facilities include cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medication, depending on the patient’s needs.

“Some medications may help with cravings but cognitive behavioral therapy helps students recover from the nicotine and tobacco addiction,” said Dr. John Guthman, director of student counseling services.

The smoking cessation program is, “A thought-out program based on empirical principles,” according to Guthman. So why aren’t students taking advantage of it?

“I only smoke during the time where classes are in session, and so far I have had no desire to quit for that time period,” said Lisa Brix, junior psychology major. “I was not aware that there was a program in place at the Wellness Center, but knowing that now does not change anything.”

According to Guthman, this stance on tobacco addiction isn’t uncommon.

“Students haven’t come into contact with some of the more aversive contingencies associated with tobacco use,” Guthman said. “They smoke intermittently and perceive they are in control.”

Still, there is hope that students will begin to utilize the program.

“We want students to know that we offer this service voluntarily meaning that students are free to come and go,” Guthman said. “There is nothing withholding students from checking the program out because it’s free, convenient and confidential.”

Teamed with the new policies regarding the smoking ban on the south side of campus, Hofstra University as a whole is encouraging students to be healthy and smoke-free.

“[The point of the ban is to] promote the health and safety of the Hofstra community,” said Professor Stuart Bass, chair of University Senate. “It’s for everyone’s well-being and the overall good of the university.”

According to Bass, there is currently no penalty other than a fair warning. However, Bass said that the university is working with Public Safety and, “there are enforcement sanctions in the works to make it a meaningful ban.”

Bass hopes that by next year, there will be a complete smoking ban on both the residential and academic sides of campus.

Between the faculty and staff at Hofstra, students’ health and success are the main focus.

“We are here to help you reach your goals, which is to get out of school … hopefully in a timely fashion. You can’t learn unless you’re well,” Houck said.

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