New program helps smokers drop the habit

Tara Powers

Freedom From Smoking, an adult smoking cessation program offered through the Office of Health Promotions, began meeting at Villanova on Oct. 27.

The Office of Health Promotion has always offered free one-on-one consultations to help create personal “quit day” plans and impart strategies to help interested students become smoke-free. 

“The office decided that adding a group support model would be complementary to these services, as well as help to reach individuals that did not want a one-on-one setting, but rather a group setting,” said Assistant Director Kathryn Quinlan-Poet. 

FSF was adapted from the American Lung Association’s successful group clinic, which has helped thousands of smokers to quit permanently. 

Both Quinlan-Poet and Coordinator of Peer Education Programs Kimberly Hill are trained and certified to administer FFS.

For a $40 registration fee, members are entitled to seven weeks of classes that include meetings in small groups to ensure personal attention. The program also caters to each individual smoker by helping its members create their own quit plans.

The FFS program uses modules, each of which contains several lessons.  Participants receive valuable information about tobacco and quitting, and most lessons contain an assignment that must be completed before moving on to the next module. 

These assignments reinforce the messages in each lesson and the commitment to quit that each participant has made. 

FFS does not begin with quitting. It takes its members through several lessons first, providing them with the information and preparation they will need to work their way up to quitting before Quit Day actually arrives.

The Office of Health Promotions will offer FFS each semester in addition to the one-on-one consultations offered throughout the year. Since this is the first time the program has been offered at Villanova, it is only open to Villanova faculty, staff and students. 

“Each semester we will evaluate how successful the program was, and hopefully open it to the Villanova community at large,” Quinlan-Poet said.

The Office of Health Promotion will also oversee the Great American Smokeout, taking place on Nov. 19.

Smokers are encouraged to smoke less or quit on this day, and awareness events will be held throughout campus.

Nonsmokers can show support by adopting a smoker and giving them moral support for the day, while smokers trying to quit can trade in their cigarettes for small prizes and enter a raffle for a larger prize.

According to a 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health, smoking was banned in public spaces on 80 percent of college campuses.

At Villanova, smoking is prohibited in residence halls and academic buildings, but the campus is not designated as smoke-free.

“Policy states that residents can only smoke 20 feet from the building,” said senior Theresa Henry, a resident assistant in Gallen Hall. “Some residence halls have benches that are 20 feet away from the entrances, so they can utilize those.”

A 2006 University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center study showed that while smoking in every other age demographic has continued to decline in recent years, 18- to 24-year-olds are the only group with consistently increasing smoking rates. UW’s statistics also showed that for the first time in history, college-aged women are now the fastest growing segment of new smokers.

In spring 2009, the National College Health Assessment was administered to a random sample of undergraduate students at Villanova.

Students were asked the number of days on which they had smoked cigarettes within the last 30 days. Responses indicated that 71.2 percent of students had never smoked cigarettes, a percentage that is slightly higher than the national average. 

Only 1.8 percent of Villanova students had smoked daily during the last 30 days. 

Freedom From Smoking meets on Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. in the Health Services Building. Classes will run for seven weeks.