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ASU offers tobacco users support, resources to help them quit

March 20, 2013

Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that within 20 minutes of quitting tobacco, a person’s heart rate and blood pressure drop and stabilize. Twelve hours later, carbon monoxide levels in the blood fall. In 2-12 weeks, blood circulation improves, elevating lung function. In one to nine months, coughing and shortness of breath reduces, and within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease reduces dramatically.

Despite the many benefits, however, quitting tobacco is difficult for many, said Suzanne Jacobs and Leonard Nasca, counselors at Arizona State University’s Employee Assistance Office.

“People take up smoking or tobacco for complex reasons,” Jacobs said. “Non-smokers don’t realize there are cons to quitting.”

“Some people use smoking or tobacco as a coping mechanism for stress or past trauma,” Nasca added. “A person also risks losing friendships if smoking or chewing is a shared activity that brings the friends together socially”. 

Quitting is possible and a variety of factors may persuade a user to give up tobacco.

“Relationships are the most important motivators when it comes to quitting,” Jacobs said. “Most people think about the way their children or grandchildren would perceive the habit. Some just wish to have a healthy future with the ones they love.”

Other factors that drive people are health and finances.

Jacobs said the first step is to recognize tobacco as a problem. Realization may not necessarily lead to quitting, but it is a useful first move.

“There are five major steps involved in quitting tobacco,” Nasca said. “There is pre-contemplation, i.e., thinking about quitting. There’s contemplation that means closing in on a decision. The two are followed by preparation, plan and action.”

Jacobs said that the Employee Assistance Office provides counseling, as well as resources to staff and faculty who plan to go tobacco-free. The office recently held its first wellness workshop and will continue to offer support services.

“We are very flexible when it comes to assisting employees,” she said. “Support meetings can be scheduled during lunch hour. If an office on campus has a group of people who wish to quit, we could visit them for a workshop.”

Jacobs said the Well Devils newsletter is another great resource for information and tips on going tobacco-free.

Nasca explained that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to giving up tobacco. Goals may vary from person to person, but having a support system is vital to the process.

Jacobs suggested tobacco users who wish to quit create a network of people who are a source of unconditional love and support.

“A support system comes in handy to minimize the chances of a slip,” Jacobs said. “The key is not beating oneself up even if you do slip and getting right back on track.”

Colleagues, too, can provide support to co-workers planning to go tobacco-free by accompanying them during breaks, when they are most likely to light up a cigarette or chew tobacco, or encouraging them to participate in health-related activities such as yoga and stretching.

Jacobs and Nasca said a person thinking about quitting should approach a counselor promptly to have further discussions.

“People always think motivation is a feeling but it’s not,” Jacobs said. “They say, ‘Im going to wait until I feel motivated.’ But motivation is an action. It’s a behavior, not a feeling because if we all waited till we felt motivated, we would never do anything.”

Beginning Aug. 1, 2013, ASU will become a tobacco-free university, joining more than 800 colleges and universities nation-wide in protecting its community and visitors from the health risks associated with second-hand smoke. Tobacco will be prohibited on ASU property, facilities, grounds, parking structures, university-owned vehicles and structures owned or leased by the university.

For more information regarding the ASU Tobacco-free Initiative, click here:

ASU employees who wish to quit tobacco can visit https://cfo.asu.edy/hr-tobaccofree or Assistance and information is also available at 480.965.2271.