UC’s Win by Quitting program supports tobacco ban

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In August 2016, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees voted to make UC campuses tobacco free as of May 1, 2017, but the students who use tobacco will still be here.

UC’s Win by Quitting program aims to help community members quit smoking.

The UC Barret Cancer Center hosts the program, which is free for students as well as all members of the UC community.

“[The ban] comes from a good place; it’s just the university trying to make everyone healthier,” said Caroline Bekker, second-year electronic media student whose own smoking habit will be affected by the ban.

“I would consider joining,” said Bekker. “Any type of support group that makes it easier is a good thing.”

The program is designed to get patients to slow down on their tobacco use, rather than try to get them to quit cold turkey, and it provides medication to assist them with slowing down, according to Richard Simmons, second-year business management student, who works for the Win by Quitting program.

The program takes six sessions over the course of 12 weeks and involves an individualized approach to each specific smoker’s needs.

“Our appointments are one on one from the very first appointment to the last appointment,” said Simmons. “At least for myself, I found out that a lot of people kind of shy away from the group thing. I get a lot of phone calls, and they ask ‘is it group?’ If I say yes, then they kind of don’t want to do it, but if it’s individual I found out that a lot of people would go.”

Of the first 376 patients who completed one visit and responded to follow-up contact, 46 percent have quit smoking. For the 250 patients who completed at least three sessions, 54 percent of them quit.

Win by Quitting utilizes behavior modification techniques as well as prescription medication to help smokers quit.

In the first session, the physician reviews the smoker’s medical history to see if certain prescription smoking cessation drugs are safe for the patient.

The patient is then asked to report where they lie on a depression scale, a nicotine dependence scale and their history of quitting, or trying to quit, smoking.

The program operates by helping smokers identify their reasons for quitting, obstacles that may be in their way and then teaches the techniques to cope with their nicotine cravings.

On “Quit Day,” the smoker is helped with the disposal of smoking paraphernalia and is prescribed medicine to help them quit according to their needs.

Most participants are prescribed a nicotine patch (NTP), sometimes along with the drug bupropion, which reduces craving and withdrawal symptoms. Another option is the drug Varenicline, which reduces cravings while also reducing smoking’s pleasurable effects.

Since the program began in August 2004, it has had 1,550 people register, 981 patients have actually shown up for their first appointment and the total number of visits to the program’s sessions is 3,512.

The program is not just for students. In fact, the average age of participants is 49.3 years old, with 38 percent of the patients being male and 62 percent of them being female.

UPDATE 1/27/17, 2:30 p.m.: This story was updated to state that campus will go smoke free on May 1, 2017.