To Make Your Habit Go Up In Smoke
The Silhouette (Read
this article on the McMaster Silhouette site!)
use and the consequent health effects are a major issue for Canadians.
This is especially true amongst post-secondary students as smoking
rates are the highest among this age group.
is the number one preventable public health problem that Canadians
face today. Tobacco use kills more than 40,000 Canadians a year.
In Ontario alone, 12,000 people die each year from tobacco-related
illnesses. Worldwide, smoking will cause 450 million premature
deaths in the next 50 years, and at least 170 million of these
deaths could be avoided if current smoking rates were cut in
related illnesses place a substantial amount of stress on the
health care system as one million hospital days per year are
due to tobacco. Smokers are twice as likely to die from cancer
than non-smokers, while heavy smokers are four times more likely
to die from cancer than non-smokers. However, smoking does not
just affect smokers. Second-hand smoke is a major cause of lung
cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases in adults and
students comprise a large percentage of high-tobacco users. On
Canadian university campuses, approximately 40 per cent of the
student populations smoke regularly or occasionally. About 70
per cent of these students say that they would like to quit,
but currently there are few resources available to aid in this
difficult process. Despite the high rates of smoking among post-secondary
students, this population has been largely overlooked by public
health strategies. This omission is startling, because tobacco
use is the highest among young adults ages 18-34, and because
10 per cent of smokers say they started smoking after the age
of 18. Since the post-secondary school experience is a transitional
stage, some students consider altering their smoking behaviour,
and they require the necessary external support.
a smoking awareness program, Leave The Pack Behind (LTPB), was
developed to provide information and resources to Ontario students
to assist them in reducing or quitting smoking.
are many smoking cessation techniques, yet many of these are
not widely available to university students. Additionally, the
resources currently available require research to determine their
effectiveness for students. There is no evidence that adult-validated
interventions, including self-help materials, nicotine replacement
therapies, pharmacological aides and group programs, have comparable
benefits (and risks) for students.
goal of LTPB is to gather information about the student population
and the most effective smoking cessation methods. Currently,
LTPB is gathering research on self-help smoking interventions.
Smokers involved in this study are asked to give feedback on
three different smoking cessation packages. This study aims to
establish which techniques work best for Ontario university students.
With this knowledge, the inadequacies in the current resources
for students will be corrected, and consequently, more students
will be able to quit smoking and remain smoke-free.
addition to gathering information for the smoking cessation study,
LTPB offers one-on-one peer support to students who are trying
to quit or reduce smoking. The peer-support staff offers non-judgmental
and knowledgeable support. For those who are interested, LTPB
offers free, confidential support and cessation assistance at
your convenience, just contact them to schedule an appointment.
significant component to LTPB is providing information on the
effects of tobacco while offering techniques for smokers, and
for their friends and family to help in the process of quitting.
For example, at their bi-weekly displays, LTPB provides self-help
booklets for people who want to quit, people who don’t want to
quit, men and women. LTPB also provides “smokalyzer” tests, which
measure the carbon monoxide levels in smokers’ breath. Carbon
monoxide has been proven to cut the blood-oxygen levels in smokers
and to cause their hearts to gradually enlarge. Finally, LTPB
provides information or referrals to health care professionals
if a smoker is interested in using pharmaceutical aids. So LTPB
offers an excellent array of support and information, designed
specifically for Ontario university students, throughout the
reducing or quitting process.
their current promotion, LTPB is offering one more reason for
smokers to quit or cutback with the “Let’s Make a Deal!” contest,
which was open to any McMaster students. This contest is for
regular smokers, casual smokers and non-smokers who would like
to quit smoking, reduce smoking, stop social smoking or not begin
smoking at all.
the “Let’s Make a Deal!” contest there will be winners within
each of the four “deals” to be made. First, Quit for Good, the
winner has quit smoking completely. Second, Keep the Count, here
the winner reduces consumption by 50 per cent. Third, Party Without
the Pack, the winner will break the alcohol-tobacco pairing.
Fourth, Don’t Start and Win: the winner will continue to be completely
contestants who registered during the second week of January
began their “deals” on Jan. 20. The benefits to quitting are
numerous but this contest offered McMaster students and staff
even more incentives, including cash prizes for first prize winners,
gift certificates to local businesses for runners up, and bonuses
for the required witnesses and buddies. After the four weeks
of sticking to their goals, all contestants, witnesses and buddies
will be invited to an end of contest party on Friday, Feb. 28,
during which they will be awarded prizes.
addition to “Let’s Make a Deal!”, Leave the Pack Behind offers
a number of incentives to quit including the smoking cessation
study and entering their Valentine’s Day draws. Display dates
and locations for the next two weeks are as follows: Jan. 30
in Commons Marketplace, Jan. 31 in HHSC, Feb. 6 CNH, and Feb.
7 in Commons Marketplace. All displays are up between the hours
of 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
more information about LTPB, the smoking cessation study, further
display dates or to schedule a free appointment for confidential
support, please e-mail [email protected], call 905-525-9140, ext.
26051 or visit our website at www.leavethepackbehind.org. LTPB
is located in the Health and Wellness Centre, McMaster University
Student Centre MUSC B106.