the Habit? A Good Day to Start
Thursday, Nov. 19, on National Great American Smokeout Day,
a group of Smith psychology students will host a discussion
on smoking cessation for the college community.
Coordinated by Heather Crawford ’10, the discussion aims to explore resources
available to smokers on campus who have interest in quitting.
“Our project relies somewhat on Self-Determination theory and the idea that smokers
succeed in quitting more often when they feel they are in control,” explains
Crawford of the discussion, which will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in Campus
Center 103/104. “Students will be actively engaged in collaborating on the best
way to approach smoking cessation on campus.”
The students leading the project
are enrolled in the seminar “Society, Psychology
and Health,” taught by Benita Jackson, assistant professor of psychology. As
opposed to a one-time smoking cessation workshop, the students’ discussion is
intended as a first step in an ongoing effort to assist smokers who want to quit.
Related events will likely follow, such as a Smoking Cessation Support Group,
College life is stressful, no
question, especially at a school like Smith, with high demands
for academic performance. Smoking cigarettes is often a form
of managing stress and anxiety, says Emily Nagoski, wellness
education director at Smith.
“Quitting smoking is notoriously difficult,” attests Nagoski, who successfully
quit smoking in 2005. “And smoking is higher among Smithies than among other
According to the National College
Health Assessment conducted last spring, about 7.7 percent
of Smith students report smoking cigarettes every day. That
percentage, while slightly higher than the national average
of 5 percent among college women, is much lower than the
perception of Smith smokers.
Still, Nagoski would prefer
a lower percentage of smokers at Smith, both for the health
of those who smoke and those who breathe the resultant pollution.
She welcomes discussions such as the student-organized class
project, both for the information it will yield about smoking
habits at Smith and other colleges, and for the awareness
it raises about the issue.
In support of the Great American
Smokeout, Nagoski will distribute stickers embossed with
the slogan, “Kiss a Non-smoker, Taste the Difference!” And
she will be quick to share information that “four out of five Smithies haven’t
smoked at all in the past 30 days.”
The annual event, first launched
by the American Cancer Society in 1977, challenges smokers
to abstain from inhaling tobacco for one day while raising
awareness of the dangers of tobacco use and aids to quitting.
If one can quit smoking for
one day, suggests the campaign, perhaps she can multiply
Some schools have embraced recommendations
by the American College Health Association to ban smoking
on campus—at least in designated zones—with positive results of measurably
reduced percentages of smokers among faculty, staff and students. The University
of Kentucky recently adopted a policy banning smoking and tobacco use anywhere
on campus with the support of about two-thirds of the campus population.
it’s uncertain what methods would be most effective in reducing
the percentage of smokers, Nagoski says. But, she adds, holding
a conversation like the student event on November 19 is a
good place to start.