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Health Promotion launches program to help smokers quit

LEAVE THE PACK Behind is a free service offered by Health Promotion at the University of Ottawa to assist students who are trying to quit smoking. This year, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) was added to the program because of concerns regarding high smoking rates on university campuses.

“This year, Health Promotion is composed of over 70 student volunteers and eight work-study team leaders,” said Madeline Dignan, head of the Leave the Pack Behind team. “The students are divided into seven teams whose focuses include drugs and alcohol, global health, sexual health, international health, nutrition, healthy minds, and Leave the Pack Behind.”

“Leave the Pack Behind, along with Health Services’ smoking cessation program, is offering free full-course treatments of Nicotine Replacement Therapy—the patch and gum—to students who wish to quit smoking.”

NRT is the name for treatment of nicotine cravings with either a specialized patch or gum. Studies suggest it is almost twice as likely for an individual to quit smoking using NRT than without it, but the problem for many is the cost.

“A one-week supply can cost between $20 and $50,” said Dignan. “Daily, the patch can cost between $3 and $7. However, now students can access it for free at the Health Services clinic—although they need to make an appointment regarding smoking cessation.”

According to Dignan, 22 per cent of students admit to smoking regularly, a problem those working at Health Services are hoping to reduce.

“Leave the Pack Behind’s goal is not to force students to quit smoking,” said Dignan. “We are present to encourage and provide resources to those students who are interested in quitting and to get more students thinking about quitting.”

Daniel Stojanovic, a second-year health sciences student, appreciates the accessibility of Health Services, having used the services before.

“The programs Health Services offer are really handy for university students because we have such busy lives and they aren’t too aggressive,” said Stojanovic. “They are almost always available so it is really easy to accommodate your schedule, especially when you compare it to other services.”

Health Promotion’s visibility and active nature on campus has made some smokers consider using NRT.

“I would definitely seek this new service. If this service is available and easily accessible, many see this as a good chance to try and quit smoking especially since it is free,” said a fourth-year engineering student and smoker at the U of O.

“Sometimes you are confused whether you want to quit or not. That discussion includes whether you have the money to quit, but having that easy access is important.”

The University of Ottawa’s Health Services’ Health Promotion is located in room 203 of the University Centre.

—Christopher Radojewski